Is that all there is?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Over forty years ago singer Peggy Lee recorded a song during the big band era.

It was titled "Is That All There Is?"

It was a pensive melancholy refrain about life.

The lyrics tell about when she was a small child and watched her house burn down.

Her daddy held her in his arms as they watched the fire.

"I'll never forget the look on my father's face as we watched the whole world go up in flames," she sang.

Then she thought to herself, "Is that all there is to a fire?

If that's all there is, then let's keep dancing."

Then she sang about going with her dad to a circus when she was 12 years old, where there were clowns, elephants and dancing bears.

She said a lady in pink tights flew high above their heads. As she sat there watching, she had the feeling that something was missing.

I don't know what, but when it was all over I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a circus?"

If that's all there is, let's keep dancing.

The premise was that, for a time, the circus and its thrills and excitement helped mask the emptiness of life.

A life where something was missing.

Then the lyrics tell about falling in love and the pain of rejection.

"I fell in love, then he went away and I thought I'd die, but I didn't. And when I didn't, I said to myself, 'Is that all there is to love? If that's all there is, my friends, then let's keep dancing. Let's break out the booze and have a ball if that's all there is.'"

She wondered about death and the final moment when she breathed her last breath. Would she be saying to herself: "Is that all there is"?

I really don't know why that particular song came to mind this morning.

Maybe it's because it's dark and rainy outside as I write this.

It's gloomy as the raindrops drip from the eaves of my house.

Perhaps it's because a friend is facing heart surgery this week.

He's only 65 and full of life. He loves to slow dance with his wife.

I'm wondering when he's lying on that operating table if he'll think, "Is this all there is?"

If that's all there is, then let's keep on dancing.

I really do believe that at some point in life, we stop and ponder what life's about.

We wonder what we are doing in certain situations and how we got there. We realize that life doesn't always turn out the way we expected. We may realize that we haven't accomplished all we hoped to accomplish.

Life takes twists and turns we didn't count on...a lost job, an unplanned pregnancy, a catastrophic family illness, the death of a spouse or child, lost investments, infidelity, divorce.

I remember sitting in a hospital room with an elderly relative who was dying of cancer.

She looked at me and said, "Daddy and I worked all our lives so that we could take it easy, and now look what happened."

She died a few weeks later and left her husband a grief-stricken widower.

I know many of you are thinking that Christians don't receive their rewards on earth, but in Heaven.

I also know that many things happen that we cannot understand. Often, we blame God when misfortune is of our own making.

But there have been instances when I could not understand the why of things.

Some would say it's because we live in a sinful world, in a sinful environment. In other words, bad things happen to good people too.

Christians aren't immune from problems just because they live a Christian life.

I've heard all those pontifications and more.

But ever so often, I wonder about things, just like Peggy Lee did.

Is that all there is?

I have to believe there is more, much more.

As the sacred hymn goes, "We will understand it better by and by."