This afternoon, on a study break, I took my eldest kids on their bikes to 711 for a slurpee - probably one of the ultimate All-American experiences.If you don't live here, think psychedelic, sugary, icy sludge drink.
To get to 711 you pass the city mortuary. My daughter asks me as we ride past, "Dad, please can we go to the military after we get our slurpees?"
Hoping she wasn't feeling a sudden urge to sign up the Marines, I ask, "You mean the mortuary?' "Yes," she replies." So, slurpees in hand we take a detour through the mortuary.
The saddest grave stones are the baby's ones. Some lived less than three months. This grabs my childrens' attention. There is one plaque commemorating all those that died due to violence. And of course, the wall of remembrance which sparks a discussion on cremation and ashes. I can see this experience is a thought provoking one for my kids.
I take the gap to tell them about an Alphaville song I loved as a teenager called 'Forever Young.' "I never used to think I would really grow old. I thought growing older was for old people. But according to Psalm 90 I'm about half way through this life," I say, explaining how many years '3 score and 10' is.
I try to impress upon them that life is not only fragile, but also very brief compared with eternity, and so we are to live with heaven in mind, making the most of every day that God gives us.
"Teach us to number our days that we may apply ourselves to wisdom," is what the psalm of Moses says. It's a sober rite of passage for them. Sober but not somber.
After all, we are all deeply loved and tightly held by Jesus, who overcame death.
And of course, it's impossible to get too somber with a slurpee in your hand.