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Dialogue on Life
One evening a man boarded a bus on his way home from work. He was stressed and exhausted. The other passengers could tell from the dark circles under his eyes that the man hadn't slept in weeks. "What is the meaning of life?" the man pondered aloud. "Surely it's not just working a forty-hour week in order to pay my bills and lie awake at night thinking about all of the debt I owe."
At first all of the other passengers were silent, trying to ignore the man, but each one of them was turning the question over in his mind.
"Life is like a race," one man offered. "Each man is silently competing, striving to come in first place. For me, the meaning of life is to be the very best."
"How do you mean?" asked the first man.
"Whoever dies with the most toys wins, my friend," the other replied. "I've got to have the most, the biggest, the best, in order to beat out my neighbor."
"I view life as a race, too," said the bus driver, glancing in his rearview mirror. "But not the same way that you do. I believe that we should be always striving to do as much good as we can before our time here is up."
"Like an hour glass," a young woman added. "Life is a race to accomplish as much as we can before the sand runs out."
"So the meaning of life is to race against time?" the first man asked.
"No." This reply came from a teenage boy in the backseat. "I'm taking my life easily and slowly, just drinking it all in."
"So you just idle your life away, or you work in a furious constant motion?" the man asked. "There must be something more."
"The meaning of life is to leave your mark on other people," said another. "You have to touch their lives, to help them in every way possible, so that they can reflect and say that they were blessed to know you."
"That makes sense," the man acknowledged. "But when you think about it, everyone eventually dies, right?"
"I'll go that far with you." The previous passenger nodded her head.
"Then why spend one's time on others, who will eventually die as well as you will?"
"Are you implying that you should treat life selfishly, trying to satisfy yourself without considering the needs, feelings, or ideas of others?" the woman asked.
"No." The man sighed, realizing that he had backed himself into a corner. "I'm still so confused. All of your ideas seem so extreme. Maybe the meaning of life is to find a balance?"
All this time an elderly woman had been staring out the window at the passing traffic. She had been so quiet that the other passengers had not even noticed her sitting alone. But now they all turned to face her as she spoke.
"Young man," she said, "life is a balance of sweet and bitter, joy and sorrow, of holding on and letting go. My husband died two years ago, the same week that our youngest grandchild was born." She paused for a moment before continuing. "We were all placed here for a reason. Life is not a chaotic mess; it is all a part of a grand design. And you shouldn't waste it; make every moment count. When your morals are threatened, don't be afraid to fight for what you believe in. The decisions that your generation makes will affect the lives of the next generation. And when you see someone in need, help them. Our Lord helped others when He was on this earth. And if it was good enough for Him, then it's good enough for all of us."
Everyone allowed the woman's words to sink in. "The true meaning of life is to bring glory to God by selflessly serving God and others, and by loving and encouraging one another," she said with a smile and a faraway look in her eyes. "And don't forget to take a moment each day to stop and smell the roses or to gaze at the stars. I didn't learn that until late in my life. I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and the doctors gave me thirty days to live." While everyone tried to blink back tears, the woman's voice trembled, "That was five years ago. And you know what? These past five years have been the best of my life. Each and every breath you take is a gift; don't ever, EVER, take it for granted."
I finally understand now!" the man said. "LIFE IS A GIFT GIVEN TO US BY GOD TO BE USED FOR HIS GLORY."