Friday, June 26, 2009

A Life Well-Lived

As everyone is already aware, the pop star Michael Jackson died yesterday. It has caused shock waves around the world. In spite of all the turmoil over allegations of child abuse, etc., in recent years--and in spite of the obvious alterations to his appearance over time--his popularity has continued. From what I understand, he was preparing for an upcoming tour. The concerts set for Europe have been sold out for months. He has had a following since he was a young boy, singing with the Jackson Five. And yet...

Did the fame and money bring him happiness? Was he surrounded by loved ones when he died? Did he know peace? If one were to judge by the outward signs, it would seem that the answer to all of those questions is a resounding NO. It's so sad.

Another death that occurred yesterday was that of Farrah Fawcett. I remember the hoards of young men who clamored for her pictures and posters after "Charlie's Angels" came on the scene. She was definitely a beauty, with the body to go with the face. And yet...

Her marriage to Lee Majors ended in a divorce. Her looks, body, and money could not stop the effects of the cancer which eventually took her life. Was she happy and peaceful? Hard to say. I know that I was so saddened to see pictures of her, as the cancer treatments, time, and age marred the beauty of her younger years.

It all causes me to ponder a few things. For one, the lives of those placed into stardom's bright light certainly are nothing close to normal. It is highly unusual to hear of a marriage that lasts more than one or two years. It is "normal" to hear of the children of stars, or child stars themselves, getting into all kinds of trouble with sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. It is not unusual to hear of affairs. The list could go on, but I'm sure you would concur. What a sad lifestyle. And to have it plastered all over the Internet, television, and newsstands...incredibly difficult to deal with one's life problems in that context.

And it also leads me to this thought: How important is a life well-lived? My kids are at VBS this week. Each year, they study the heroes of our faith. As they learned about Mother Teresa yesterday, they learned the importance of a life of giving to those who are "the least" among us. Caring in love for the sick and dying was Mother Teresa's life mission. She did not seek fame (though there are few in the world who have never heard her name). She sought only to minister to others. She didn't seek money. She was a small little woman, with no "Hollywood look" about her at all. Her thoughts on having the riches of this world? "Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own."

And that, my friends, is a life well-lived. It is one we would all do well to ponder and imitate. For in the end, the only claim to fame we should desire are the words of the greatest Hero of all: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

I do not sit in judgment over Michael or Farrah. I cannot imagine the pressures of the lives of those in the spotlight. And, as Mother Teresa once said, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." I only know that what the famous have is not my desire.

May we all strive for the "life well-lived" and to remember these words of Mother Teresa as well: "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
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