An angel kneels at the tomb of someone who has passed on. Buried with that person are all the dreams, successes, failures, and regrets that were experienced in life. No opportunity to redo what has been left undone or poorly executed. These days no gold or treasure in the coffin accompany the body on the next leg of the journey. But what about the regrets that we might experience looking back over life?
I watched a Christmas movie tonight entitled Last Holiday where the lead character is told she has weeks to live. She quits her job, cashes in all her money and goes on an adventure. She wiggles her way into people’s hearts and has the time of her life, taking risks she would never have done had she not been diagnosed with a terminal illness with a short shelf life. The Hollywood ending is that the doctors made an error and she can go on to live a new, courageous life, now that she has learned the lesson of breaking free of her fears and limits.
I have already said that I do not have many regrets. I have been working on checking dreams from a life list for over 25 years. During my 40th year, I set out to look at the fears that held me back from living fully. The work I have ahead of me in the coming months is to figure out what I still must learn in life, what amends must be made, where to focus my energies, what to retreat from, what to embrace, who to spend time with, and how to just be in so many ways. I also hope to explore my regrets.
I think one of the regrets I have is leaving early and I want to spend some time embracing that. In my new home, I find myself marveling at the sky. I sit and stare from this high up in wonder. Each night a different sunset lights up the horizon and each morning is never the same. God’s mercy is similar. Each day, it greets us with what we need to take our breathe away. I want to be able to peacefully leave and to make sure that I know what I have regretted in life. I suspect by doing so it will give me a happy ending–a chance to do things differently and become my best self–a better version of who I already am. I want to look at my sin history and creaturehood as Ignatius encouraged in hopes of finding freedom from attachments that do not allow me to behave properly or make wise decisions.
We all have some regrets–words we have said that we would take back, decisions that lead us to somewhere different than we had hoped, actions that hurt people, dreams not acted on, relationships broken and not repaired, opportunities missed, God-callings ignored, and gratitude not expressed. How we deal with regrets is important. If it leads to desolation and irrational decisions then we are lead away from God. If we can embrace the process and keep our eyes on God, then we can be in consolation and learn the lessons we need to transition well. I look forward to that work now. Not everyone gets this chance.
What regrets do you have in life?
Are there valuable lessons to learn from them that would bring healing?
Show me, God, where I have failed in life and how I must change. Give me peace of mind as I look back over my sin history and see with your eyes my life. Amen.