At approximately 2:42 a.m. on November 18, 1999, the 59-foot high stack, consisting of about 5000 logs, collapsed during construction. Of the 58 students and former students working on the stack, 12 were killed and 27 were injured. This ended the tradition known as Bonfire on the Texas A&M Campus, and forever changed the face of the university and those who participated in it.
This year’s graduating seniors have lived in a world where Bonfire – at least the student-led campus-housed one – didn’t exist.I let that sink in today – something that happened 18 years ago. I was 20 years old. Man, how life has changed.
To those families of the fallen, every year my heart aches and more over the past few as I have my own child, who’s own life could end at any moment — and that makes every moment a little more precious. Lately I have struggled with looking at the ripe old age of 40 – just a few years more up the hill for me – I keep thinking that life is going to start soon. That I’m going to finally “get the break” “get going” whatever that is…I realize that I’m probably silly for thinking that, that life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans – and my other plan making never quits…
Sometimes I don’t stop and listen to my little dude babble – I think to myself, “I’ll just get this one more thing done and then…”…or “I’ll stay an hour extra during lunch or later after work because I’ll finish this one project and then…” and inevitably, I find that “and then…” never really happens – the moment is gone, missed and written in the history books – and while I was too busy cooking or sweeping, I missed my kid seeing something for the first time, or meeting his need to chat.
All I can imagine now is for the parents of the fallen students of Bonfire, how many times “and then…” may have run through their heads. The Lord’s Prayer, often cited by our pastor at church, says to, “Give us THIS day, our daily bread” – and I’m not doing that enough – being present in THIS day, rather than preparing for the next, and the next.
I need to realize the gifts I have, and stop planning the gifts that my brain has convinced me I need. I have everything right now, I have my daily bread in my hands, and I admit that I am taking it for granted. The here and now is already provided for, I just need to start living it.