This morning I attended the memorial service at Bet Shira congregation for Roberta Shevin who died suddenly on Monday. I met Roberta a few years ago when I began attending monthly meetings of MCCJ’s (formerly Miami Council of Christians and Jews) Interfaith Clergy Dialogue. She had recently retired this spring as Executive Director of MCCJ, Inc. where she had served for nine years. Roberta was beautifully eulogized for a life well-lived—dedicated to her family, friends, faith, and working on issues of social justice. She especially worked creatively and energetically for interfaith understanding, acceptance, respect, and community.
This poem, which I found very meaningful, was read in the service by Rabbi Judith Siegel. I think its’ truths can apply to each human life, regardless of religious affiliation. And so I share it with you, inviting you to “…choose to live a life that matters.”
“What Will Matter”
By Michael Josephson
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten
will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations
and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from
or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought
but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success
but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned
but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity,
compassion, courage, or sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence
but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered,
by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
In Christ Love!
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ