The Last Hour

photo by Josh Scholten

Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
~Jonathan Edwards

The first few weekends of any university’s fall semester is fraught with risk.  It is a time when freshmen, in particular, participate in age-old college rituals that take some to the emergency room and result in a few lying in the morgue.  There is sometimes an attitude of tossing care and good judgement to the wind.  Leaving home and being on one’s own means the freedom to do what one wants, when one wants, until the moment when payment comes due.

The national headlines in autumn over the last few years have shouted in large font about toxic reactions at parties serving Four Loko, about students gone missing, about fatal falls off overloaded balconies, and this week about the devastating effects of alcohol enemas.  There never seems to be an end to ways students can experiment with stretching and possibly breaking the slender thread between life and death, in the name of fun and games.

A helpful rule of thumb has always been what our grandmothers said:  “Don’t ever do anything you’d be embarrassed to see on the front page of the newspaper.”

In this day and age of social media, as newspapers become less relevant, the new rule of thumb should be: “Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to see on FaceBook, YouTube or going viral in a matter of hours.”  Unfortunately, in the twisted way modern society works for some, that is all the more incentive.

Jonathan Edwards, writing almost 300 years ago, had it right.  We need to live each hour as if it were our last, considering what that hour might mean for eternity.

Going out the Door

photo by Nate Gibson

“It’s a dangerous business… going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien

Every day it appears I embark on adventure, like it or not.  The moment I wake from dreams and acknowledge a new morning, when my eyes and ears open and take it in, when I first step onto the floor and start my journey–I pray the road rises to meet me and leads me where I need to go.

Inside my head and inside my house, all is routine and certain.  The moment I walk out the door, down the steps and make my way into the day, there awaits an unpredictable and often hostile world.   Rather than armor myself, girding for disaster, I want to “keep my feet.”  If I know where I’m about to step, I’m more likely to be ready for the one after–less likely to stroll blindly into a deep ditch, stumble oblivious into a hornet’s nest, disappear unexpectedly into a hidden crevasse, swept completely away in a gust of wind.

It’s a dangerous business, this waking up and living.

But someone has to do it.

photo by Nate Gibson