It so happens that I attended two memorial services recently for women who exemplify for me what it means to live a meaningful life. Neither of them was famous. Neither of them guided international gatherings or led large organizations. They simply participated -- participated in life through the gifts they were blessed with, journeying through the dailiness of their lives.
They were gracious, generous, invested in making life better for others by volunteering, by serving the society around them, and one by serving her country during World War II. Their beautiful spirits were recognized by the many whose lives were touched by them in healing and loving ways. They knew what mattered and how to stay focused on those journeys of self-giving and self-growing. Loss and heartbreak were familiar companions for them, and these were their means of understanding the pain that others experienced.
The service for one of them included excerpts from Michael Josephson's poem "Live a Life that Matters." I offer some of those lines that describe the lives of these two women, as they lived lives that mattered:
"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.'