On my bookshelf in the corner stands a little statuette. Upon first glance the small white horse doesn't appear to be anything special. But just like untold numbers of things in life, when you look deeper there is a story to be told and a lesson to be learned.
May 2003. It was a cool spring day when I had my 15th birthday party. I had invited several friends, though I still didn't know a lot of people since we had just moved to Missouri a few months before. Among those in attendance was a girl just a few months older than myself. For a present she gave me a statuette of a white horse that she had painted up. Being quite the horse-lover, I was always happy to have something horse-related (this was before I went on my first minimalist rampage... :P). Little did I know what this statuette would come to symbolize for me. After all, who ever knows the future?
Three years and two months later I attended this same girl's funeral. She died in a car accident at 18. Funny how things like that make you catch your breath. That day so long ago now, nobody could have known, and I'm sure of all people she never guessed she only had 3 years left to live. Had she known, might she have lived differently? What if you or I knew we only had 3 years or 3 months left to live? Would we do things differently than we are doing now? We don't even know if we have 3 minutes left to live.
In the back of everyone's mind is the knowledge that we do not know how long we have to live. Every once in a while the reality hits us, such as when someone young and healthy dies unexpectedly. But we shake our heads sadly and push the notion to the back of our minds and go on assuming we have many many years left to live. If at some time or another one has reason (whether real or imagined) to believe that his days are coming to an end, often that person changes the way they do things--being more kind and generous or whatnot. But shouldn't we live ready to die? Now, I'm not suggesting we should live like paranoid schizophrenics and be worried about dying any minute. Rather, I am saying that we should be mindful of everything we say and do. How is it going to effect us and those around us? How is it going to effect our worlds after we are gone? You may not have a chance to fix things.
If you've ever seen the movie "The Young Victoria" you may have been struck by the scene where Victoria and Albert were having a spat... right before he got shot with the bullet intended for her. I surely was. What if he had died? Imagine the guilt she would have lived with. You just never know. That's why we are called to "walk circumspectly--not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil."
This is what the white horse statuette has come to symbolize for me. Whenever I look at it I am reminded of the uncertainties of life and the importance of every single moment, because I don't know how many moments I have left. Is what I am doing now important, good, and right? Am I ready for tomorrow or the lack thereof?