Just A Dash

The little boy was munching happily a chocolate bar and at the same time, he had tears in his eyes. I wondered why and so I asked him what was wrong with the chocolate. He replied: “Nothing wrong with the chocolate but I know that the more I eat of it, the smaller it becomes!”

This is an image of life. The more we live, the less we shall live! The more time passes, the closer we are to death. Birth is our first step to death.

So the vital question will always be one, “What the heck are we doing here? What are we living for?”

Perhaps many of us never bother to ask this question. And definitely very few know how to answer correctly. We just live. We just meander around. Strange that many do not know where we are heading towards.

The famous English author G.K. Chesterton was on a train when the conductor came over for the tickets. Chesterton was known for his absent mindedness. He started searching all over his pockets but he could not find the ticket. Realizing that he was becoming agitated, the conductor tried to calm him down. “Don’t worry, sir, about it. I will pass by later on.”

“You don’t understand,” replied the famous writer. “I am not worried about the ticket. I just cannot recall where I am going! The destination is written on the ticket.”

Saint Philip was insightful. One day, meeting a student, the following conversation ensued. “What are you studying?” asked the saint. “I am studying law to become an attorney.” “And then?” “Then I will build a career, acquire lots of money, get married, have children…”

“And then?” “Then I will have my mind at rest for when I become old.” “And then?” “What do you mean ‘and then’? I don’t know! Then I shall die.”

“And then?” the saint insisted. The young man remained silent staring at him. “You can’t build your life for this world only”, concluded Saint Philip. “There is an eternity which you should be mindful of. There is a God whom you need to serve. There is a soul you need to save…”

A priest from Hawaii once gave me poem called ‘Dash’. It spoke of a woman who stood up to give a eulogy for her friend. She referred to the two dates that were to be placed on the tombstone. First came the date of her birth and then the date of her passing away. Then she made her point – what matters most of all in life is the dash between those years. The dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth.

It matters not – she said, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how we live that dash.

A tourist entered into the small room Rabbi Hofetz Kaim lived. He was somewhat taken aback when he saw that all the Rabbi possessed were a table, a chair and the Torah. “Rabbi, where is your furniture?” asked the tourist. “My furniture? Where is your furniture?” replied the Rabbi.

“Mine? I am just a tourist here. I am just passing by…” “So am I…” concluded the Rabbi.

When we come to grasp depth of this statement, we shall start living!


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.