Many readers will have heard of an American inspirational poem called “The Dash” written in 1996 by Linda Ellis. The poem has become increasingly popular and is often read at funerals. For those who have not heard of it the “dash” refers to the line between the two dates commonly found on a tombstone (eg 1926-1990) and the poem goes on to explain that while the first date is the date of birth, the following date the date of death, the most important thing is the dash as it represents a life experienced between these two dates.
For those who would like to read the poem go into Google and type “The Dash Poem” in the search bar and a number of websites will then be listed. Included in the list is a YouTube movie which shows Linda reading her poem and there are a number of letters from people saying how the poem has affected their lives.
The words of the poem certainly make you think. I have recently attended a few funerals at each of which the minister or a family member would read out an account of the deceased’s life. I found this very interesting as in each case I only knew the departed as a retired elderly person and to hear of their educational achievements, the posts they had held in their employment, their talents and sports at which they had excelled was a revelation. The poem goes on to say that it is not material possessions that are important in your dash rather it is how much we have loved and been loved in return throughout our life that count. Nobody knows how long they will live — our dash may cover only a short lifetime — so it is important that we live life to the fullest. We must treat others with respect, show appreciation and smile more. Remember that we touch the lives of everyone we come into contact with.
As Spiritualists, we all know that our life here on earth is a school of learning. We come here to learn, gain different experiences and form our character. We know that one day we will have to answer to God for the life we have led. Did we waste our time or did we make the most of what life had given us? This poem has particular relevance to our beliefs. We must all live our Dash to the fullest. Don’t put off till tomorrow because maybe tomorrow will never come. Write that letter, make that phone call. Perhaps the recipient may no longer be around to receive it if you delay too long. Get your priorities right. Enjoy summer days in the open air and keep those home jobs for rainy days. Go on holidays, read books and open your eyes to God’s wonderful world. Work hard and play hard, give praise and show compassion and look back on a life worth living.
So, when your eulogy’s 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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