A different kind of bucket list
In recent years, the idea of creating a personal “bucket list” has grown in popularity. The concept is rather simple—identify things you’d like to accomplish, see, or experience and attempt to check those items off your to-do list before you, say, “kick the bucket” (hence, the name).
The concept is an interesting one, for sure. The idea that there’s more out there that any of us would like the opportunity to enjoy. No matter how much you’ve traveled, there are still more corners of the earth to explore. Or no matter how many foods you’ve tasted or people you’ve met or adventures you’ve embraced—there’s always more to learn about or see first-hand.
Creating an individualized bucket list implies that you possess a certain amount of curiosity about the world. It says you’re never quite content with what you’ve already accomplished and want to soak up more intriguing experiences this world might have to offer.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with some friends about what each of us might put on our respective bucket lists. We talked about wanting to visit all 50 states. Or perhaps someday saving up enough money to travel to Australia. We named bands we’d like to hear in person or thrill-seeking adventures we still hoped we might get to enjoy.
But the more we talked about such exciting bucket list items, the more we all agreed that there’s a different kind of list we all hoped to subscribe to – one where things are never really checked off.
We each hope to cultivate lives that are more patient with the ones we love or to keep working for more justice and peace in this broken world. We want to be the ones who speak optimistically about the future or who spread joy wherever we are. Talk about a pretty impressive bucket list.
One of my most favorite chapters in the Bible is found in the letter to the Romans, chapter 12. In it, Paul essentially writes a version of the Christian bucket list. Try reading it and not be inspired to make these your daily tasks: “Let love be genuine. Delight in hope. Persevere in prayer. Extend hospitality to strangers. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those weep. Give food to those who are hungry, even if they’re your enemies.” It goes on and on with more great suggestions.
No, feeding the hungry or praying for your enemies might not seem quite as exciting as going skydiving or meeting a celebrity. But perhaps the greatest bucket list we can produce has less to do with checking things off and instead seeks to create an abundance of hope, joy, and love in this world.
–Katy Warren, associate pastor