Gilland: Seize the day

Child playing chess

It was the Roman poet Horace that used the phrase “Carpe diem” to encourage others to take advantage of the opportunities held at the moment. I have found this Latin phrase to be a helpful concept in my life.

Isn’t it funny how certain blocks of time in one’s life become iconic, milestone markers that emblaze that event in our mind’s eye and record the footage of our interactions in such a way that we will always remember them?

I had a number of those moments recently, as my son and his family flew to Orlando from Texas to join my wife and my three daughters and their families in throwing a birthday celebration for me that was nothing less than amazing. 

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Don’t get me wrong: I always love visiting with any of my children and their kids. But for me, the special collection of moments during the past couple of weeks will go down as some of the most precious ever spent in my now 70 years.

Included in those special times are a couple of chess games with two of my grandchildren. It was the first time for each of them to ever play chess, and what a delight to teach them the rules of the game. I watched their eyes widen as the game unfolded and the reality of strategy and consequence played out as a result of their moves. 

Chess is a game that teaches such strategy, demanding its players to think ahead while still evaluating the present. It teaches top-of-mind awareness, and the need to be alert to the resulting impacts that any move will bring.

These games were but a few of the moments that I don’t think I’ll ever forget, as another layer of bonding happened with both grandsons. But I also love the fact that these games, and other fun events that we enjoyed during these days, reminded me of just how precious times with family can be—and should be. 

Each time we are together, whether with a family member or friend, we need to take full advantage of the joy and value contained in those relationships. The special moments can pass if we aren’t alert to their unfolding, causing us to miss out on the deepening of the bond with our loved ones.

I invite you to pause and take a look around. What special events are coming up in your life, with friends or family? Ask God to help you see the very best in them, and in your conversations, to be able to capture the fun, joy and laughter that are embedded in these precious moments. Go ahead—seize the day.

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