Thursday, May 17, 2012

There's A Hole In My Bucket List

When I was ten I spent two weeks at Camp Rainbow in Boone, NC. Among other things, I learned some amazing camp songs; some would say "cheesy and campy," but I still remember some to this day. One particular favorite was There's A Hole In My Bucket. It goes back and forth between Henry and Liza and it ultimately ends where it began, "There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole."

So it is that there's a hole in my bucket...list. I'd never heard of a "bucket list" before hanging around the folks at Hotel Melanoma. I had things I wanted to do before I died, but that's what I called that short list, "Things I want to do before I die." I wanted to go to Hershey, Pennsylvania and I wanted to see a play on Broadway in New York City.

Check and check and I had fulfilled all my wildest dreams. With a lot of life left to live. Sigh. What's a gal to do? Well, this gal gets all contemplative and does some reevaluation of that list and finds something pretty theologically significant. For me anyways.

But first, let me say I have a red car. Some days it's my mid-life crisis car and some days it's my Pentecostal/Methodist car. But she's a bright red HHR and I'm 20 again behind her wheel. Getting a bright red car was added to my bucket list when I knew what a bucket list was. And, again, check.

As I ramble the halls of Hotel Melanoma and put on my Chaplain Boss Queen gear, I hear hopes and dreams. I hear those "want tos." That list of "stuff to do while I'm here to do it" and I think back over my own list and I look at where I am now and I look at my car and I fondly remember my two must-do trips and I peer into my bucket and that's when I see that blasted hole.

My car is a thing and my two trips didn't change me or my world. When I am gone my car will not care and NYC forgot about me long ago. Hershey PA doesn't remember when I was there. I am nowhere on the radar of either city. The fact that they were on my list of things to do didn't alter their course in this world and the fact that I completed my list by visiting them didn't make the world a better place.

And I look into my bucket and I realize something I wish I had realized long ago. It's not the things we do or have that are important. It's the people we touch. And that touch us.

When I finally do leave this world, people will not look to my vehicle to see the person I was. Heaven help us all if that's the case! No, they'll look to my children. They will be the ones I continue on in. They will see me reflected in my husband and in my church. They will know I existed and lived when they read something I wrote and it touched them in such a way that it made a difference in their life. I will live on when people exchange stories about me.

My bucket list becomes to be about people and not things, trips, or dare-devil activities. Not that there's anything wrong with going sky-diving if that's a dream. But I promise you, no one will be remembered because they jumped out of a plane...oh, it may become part of a nice story, but it will pass. Eventually people will focus in on who you were and why you were that person and how you touched their life and how they can carry you with them. And that will boil down to heart and soul. How did you live, love, fight? How did you make the most of your unique gifts, talents, and graces? How did you go through open doors and how did you close some you didn't want to go through? How did you get past failures and regrets? What role did God, faith, hope, play in your life? Who called the shots? God? You? Both? Fear? Hope?

We all have a birth date and we will all have a date of death. As the popular question goes, how will you live the "dash"? The time between the two dates?

What does your bucket list look like? If it looks like "things" and inanimate activities and places, may I suggest cutting a hole in that bucket? People can't be contained in buckets and in the end, when all is said and done, it will be the people in your life that mattered most. Where are they on your bucket list?

In the song, Henry had a hole in his bucket and he couldn't fix it because he couldn't fetch water to wet the stone to sharpen the knife to cut the straw that was too long to mend the bucket because there was a hole in the bucket. It was a vicious circle, indeed. My guess is Henry threw away the bucket.

But he kept Liza.

Throw away the bucket list and keep the people. Make the ones you love your priority. Make using your gifts, talents, and graces to make the world a better place your priority. How do you want to be remembered?

May you find a hole in your bucket list and be grateful!

I know I am.