We live on borrowed time. We never know what day will be our last. Life is a gift. All we cherish can change in an instant. Herein is the challenge for all of us.
Do we allow time to pass or harness every day for impact? Do we lament the past or embrace the present? Do we complain about what we lack or rejoice in every day?
Margaret Eckmann, of blessed memory, who passed away recently at the age of 95, serves as a model for living fully each and every day.
The last day of her life revealed the secret in her soul.
We may never know what lays in the deepest recesses of the heart of a person. What serves as a motivator for life? What memories linger and cannot be forgotten?
Her daughter shared that on her very last day, she began chanting the holiest prayer in the Jewish faith declaring her belief in a higher power. It is mantra in times of grief as an affirmation of unconditional belief and in times of joy as an affirmation of gratitude. Clearly on this day, Margaret, who lived until 95 years old and raised children and grandchildren, recited the words in peace knowing her legacy would live on for generations.
Yet, hidden in heart was more than meets the eye. The declaration was the culmination of a life gifted to her over 70 years ago in the darkness of Hell.
Margaret was a Holocaust survivor…barely. The Nazis notoriously used a gas chamber in the guise of a shower to exterminate the Jews. He daughter recalled that one day Margaret was chosen for this fate. She entered the outer room and undressed as was mandated, moments from her death. An argument between two Nazis ensued debating whether this group should be sent to their deaths as they were healthy. In moments, Margaret was told to get dressed and released. Spared from imminent death, she lived her life with infinite gratitude. Rather than recite the declaration of faith in the bleakest of moments, 70 years later she proclaimed her faith with gratitude and peace.
Margaret lived with an innate awareness of the gift of every day. She chose light over darkness and joy over despair. She saw every day as a blessing and every morning as new lease on life.
When you wake up, take a moment to give thanks for the breath of life. Know that you are here for a purpose and your life matters. Every day that you do not make a difference is a day lost…and every day that you do is day for eternity.
Imagine how different our lives would be if we truly believed and internalized the Quaker sentiment (sometimes attributed to William Penn, founder of the state of Pennsylvania), “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.”
Click here to purchase Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?