Last weekend, a 17-year-old young man lost his life in a car accident. I didn’t know him or his family, but from the outpouring of love and support, it’s easy to see that he had a tremendous impact on those around him. It’s been said that he had the most contagious smile. As a star wide receiver on the high school football team, his coach describes him as a very competitive, tough, hard working student both on and off the field. At a vigil held on the football field, over 1000 people showed up to pay their respect to him. The coach reminded those in attendance that people gathered not because he was an outstanding football player, but because of the kind of person he was both on and off the field.

In light of this tragedy, the local high schools have adopted the theme “One City” and all are encouraged to wear red, his team’s color, in memory of him on Friday night. It’s awesome to see a community come together to rally around its own when tragedy strikes.

Tragedies in our city, in our country, seem to happen at an accelerating rate these days. Tragedy knows no boundaries – neither age, nor race, nor class, nor education, nor philosophy. Tragedies allow us to come together as one. We focus more on the things that truly matter – our family, our friendships, and our own life after death. We share a common bond, bringing a community together, joined by sorrow and grief.

Tragedies remind us that every day, every moment of every day, is to be cherished. When tragedy strikes, even if it doesn’t happen directly to us, its effects touch us. We hug our families tighter, taking every opportunity to let those around us know they are loved and appreciated. But then life goes on, and we forget. We take for granted that tomorrow will come. That those we love will also see tomorrow. But that doesn’t have to be true always. We have the power to change that. Tragedies can provide opportunities to change. And we don’t have to wait for a tragedy to impact our life to make those changes.

See today as a gift. Look for opportunities to love on others. Listen more and talk less. Take time to notice the things that other people are overlooking. Don’t just stop and smell the roses, but invite others to enjoy them too. None of us know how many days we’ve got, so let’s enjoy every one.

Randel Goad – Mandt Faculty Supervisor