Most days we go about our business with little thought beyond getting through our to-do list, but every now and then, mortality stands up and demands to be heard. 

We don’t like it’s harsh voice or blunt words, but we can’t avoid listening.

On May 10, Miriam Dobbins graduated with distinction from Campbell University Divinity School. 

On June 17, she died. 

Miriam, just 50 years old, was enjoying her third career, having been a nurse for 16 years before devoting herself to raising three children, now 14, 17, and 19. 

The third career was ministry: Miriam loved other people’s children, too, and worked hard to prepare herself through Preschool-Children’s Ministry Certification courses and a master’s degree at Campbell. She worked as Minister to Children at Ringgold Baptist Church in Ringgold, VA, and also participated in the guardian ad litem program in Orange County, NC, where she lived. She was making a real difference in other people’s lives. 

This is one of those hard things that leaves us slack-jawed and asking why but finding no answers other than that sometimes, there is no answer. 

Sad things happen. We can’t blame God for “taking” Miriam, as if her death might serve some higher purpose: what higher purpose could there be than loving one’s family and ministering to children?

We’d like it if God granted invulnerability to those who are dear to us, to those who give themselves to ministry, to those who are actively engaged in making the world better — but the evidence suggests that no such status has been granted. 

We all inhabit human bodies that are subject to failure.

Living with that knowledge reminds us to maximize every day we have. 

Those of us who knew Miriam will honor her good life, each in our own way. Something we’ll have in common, I suspect, is a renewed commitment to living fully and loving freely — while we can.

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