Almost every morning I open my bedroom curtains and behold the magnificent layers of mountains, hills, and valleys that seem to go on forever. However, sometimes like this morning, a thick fog is hanging across my backdrop, and I can see nothing but a white mist. Thank goodness most of the time the fog doesn’t last all day. The “sun burns it off” as they say. And it happened today—white mist disappeared as the day went on and revealed my mountains against the bright blue sky. That started me thinking about mist, vapor, and fog and how transient they can be. And, as usual, I had an inspirational thought. I went to scripture and read in James 4:14. One translation says:
“…You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
Another translation reads:
“For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.”
“You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing.”
Vapor. Smoke. Fog. Two experiences lately (and the misty morning) made this truth hit home.
When avid Braves fan and season ticket holder, Gregory Murrey, left for Turner Field on Friday, August 28th, he had no idea that he would not return to his family that evening after the game. In the 7th inning, he and the rest of the sell-out crowd stood en masse when Alex Rodriguez came to the plate to pinch-hit for the Yankees. However, during the chaos, Murrey lost his balance and fell from his second row upper deck seat onto the concrete below.
We were in the upper deck, too, that night—one section over and several rows above him. Michelle, our daughter-in-law, saw Murrey fall over the railing. I saw the protective netting held by heavy cables wobble, and I wondered if someone had tried to throw something onto the field. Later I heard that Murrey had attempted to grab the netting as he descended. In a breath, an instant, a millisecond, Murrey was dead.
On this past September 11th, I talked to one of the English composition classes I teach about the horrendous events of 9/11, 2001. (Note: These students were about five years old when it happened, so most of what they know is secondhand.) We reviewed the events together, and I gave them the usual in-class writing prompt—this time a picture of the twin towers in mid-attack. I also told them where I was when I heard the news of the first attack. However, they still had recycled knowledge of an event that shook our nation.
During my next class with this group I invited a guest speaker, a friend and colleague of mine, who was a nurse on duty on September 11 in a hospital two miles away from the Pentagon when American flight 77 plunged into the heart of that five-sided “impenetrable fortress.” She reported that for hours afterward she and many other medical personnel administered critical care to the injured. She showed us pictures of the gaping hole left in the building left by the surgical strike of the suicide attack. She told us that the fully fueled plane erupted into flames within seconds of the impact, which made the fuselage and everything around it literally vaporize.
So, yeah—life is like that—a vapor, a mist, a fog, smoke rising and quickly dissipating. I plan to celebrate today, for I am not promised any tomorrows.