Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Bucket List

I just watched a rather interesting movie called “The Bucket List”, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I know it is a rather old movie, made in 2007, but I hardly have many opportunities to watch movies when they are released. It’s one of those things that I wish I had time for, but my days off seem to be peppered with so many other things to accomplish.

The story revolves around two people (the characters played by Nicholson and Freeman) and how they end up sharing the same hospital room to undergo intensive chemotherapy for their cancer. A friendship develops between them and they both find out that their days are numbered. The rest of the story involves their ‘bucket list’ of things to do, and places to visit before they ‘kick-the-bucket’, thus the title. It’s one of those ‘feel good’ movies, where I suppose the intention of the director is to make the viewers walk out of the cinema hall with a new zeal to face and tackle the vicissitudes and challenges of daily living.

It would not be so bad an idea if we write our own bucket list as well, even though we may be alive and well, without the threat of an end of our lives anywhere in sight. What would this bucket list contain?

If we are idealistic and really hopeful, I am sure that it would include visiting many places that we would only read about or visit through the world of the television or the Internet. But it would be sad if the list were only full of physical places and nothing to do at all with visiting hearts and touching them as well.

What would we use as our gauge? The Wonders of the World? The Eyewitness Travel guides? Maybe the Michelin Guide to the Restaurants of the World. If money were no object, these may well be the lists that would influence our choices. But would they bring us to any sense of real fulfillment and achievement when we finally do lie on our deathbed?

From time to time, it would be good if we revisit Matthew 25. I daresay that it will bring us to places far more important and impactful than any of the above guides may recommend, because it speaks of visiting not places but lives.

Perhaps another gauge that will guide our list is to ask ourselves what our dearest and nearest will be thankful for to us when we are at our life’s end. Will our employees thank us for teaching them greed and how to be power hungry, or will they thank us for imparting honesty and integrity in the workplace? Will our spouses thank us for taking us around the world and to fine restaurants or will they thank us for not taking them for granted? Will our children thank us for giving them a wealthy family to belong to, or do they have a sense to know that true wealth comes because dad and mum have imparted to them a great love for God and how to do his will?

The New Year is just round the corner, and lots of people will be making resolutions. If you are one of those who do take part in this ritual, perhaps after reading this blog entry, you will think a bit deeper, reach a bit further, and love with a larger heart.

One of the best lines of the movie comes at the beginning and at the end, when the narrator reminds us how to die with closed eyes but an open heart.

May you have a blessed, holy and grace-filled 2011.


  1. The grace moment came for me when i was diagnosed with SLE in the 1990s. Having been told that there is no cure, and after sitting out the dry days, i decided that i wanted to leave something for my children - "God values".

    As i sit reading your reflections frLuke and writing now, i thanked our Lord for the "wake-up" call and i thanked Him for putting my family in place.


  2. Fr Luke,
    stepping into mass on Boxing day what made me really sit up was your talk it make me realise as a parent there are so many things to do, i admit i have strayed from the church but now i am going to make an effort to go to church n register both my kids for cath classes.

  3. Dear Fr. Luke,

    As a husband and father, my greatest wish before I die, is that my children continue in the faith right up to the end. I pray for this often, for I know that the transmission of our Catholic faith through the generations is surely one of the most important things. If we fail to do this, then no matter what great successes in life we have achieved, we have still failed as parents.

    God Bless.

  4. Dear Fr Luke,
    Ha ha ha, I notice you move from bucket list to kick-the-bucket wish. I do have a kick-the-bucket wish too – 80s music mixed with hymns, smiling people at my wake, packed church at my funeral, and enough inheritance to make my wife and children feel glad that I am better dead than alive!

    Seriously, I used to think the greatest compliment a father will get from his children at his death was about how great dad was in transmitting life values. As the years wore on, my biggest wish is for my children to say that they have seen God through daddy. This is the tougher call. Rather than just telling them what good values are, I have to live a Christian life of holiness. For the latter, I need, among the many things, in my Bucket List are these things I have to do: (Matthew 25) to feed the poor, bring drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, and comfort the sick. Tough… but worth the while.

    Interestingly, my 10 yr old child asked me what to say in the Christmas card she was sending me and I suggested she be grateful for something. Guess what? She thanked God for a hardworking dad so that the family can be wealthy?!? Like you said in your blog, I need the spent the new year showing her where the true wealth comes from.
    Wishing all a Spirit-filled New Year. May we all be able to find space in the bucket in the new year to walk the narrow road and to inherit the Kingdom that is prepared for us.