Posted by: Joe Palmer | July 19, 2010

After the Dash


After the Dash

By Joe Palmer

The Dash, by Linda Ellis is a moving poem. (See poem below) It shares a sobering and heartwarming way to look at life and death.

Grave yards can be an interesting place to visit. You can see some sad, heartwarming, and even quirky things on headstones. Every headstone has three things in common: birthdate, death date and the dash. Is that all life is?
As the poem points out it is the dash that really matters. How are you living your dash?

It dawned on me as I read the poem that it leaves out something vital. The dash is not the entire story. I thought after the birthdate, death date, and the dash a Christian needs another symbol. I first thought of the elliptical. You know the …. that we often see. Then I realized that the definition and use of the elliptical wasn’t sufficient. There is another symbol that fits better:

This symbol which is used for infinity or for eternity, represents that after the dash, the life which has beginning and end, is a life that has no end. Far to often even as Christians we live for the dash and not for eternity.

Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:26

Joe Palmer

The Dash Poem,
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak

At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone

From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came the date of her birth

And spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time

That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her

Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;

The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.

Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,

That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

To consider what’s true and real

And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives

Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,

And more often wear a smile

Remembering that this special dash

Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read

With your life’s actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent your dash?

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