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TV Snapshot: Be generous

Dr. Mark Greene is dying, and in some of his final moments he looks up to see his daughter Rachel standing beside his bed.

Mark: Hi.

Rachel: Hi.

Mark: I was just dreaming about you.

Rachel: You were?

Mark: The way you used to love balloons. Remember how much you loved balloons?

Rachel: No.

Mark: I used to buy them for you, and right when I handed them to you, you let them go. It drove your mother crazy.

He looks at Rachel and motions to her.

Mark: Sit with me. Sit.

She comes closer and sits next to him on the bed.

Mark: I was trying to figure out what I should have already told you, but I never have. Something important, something every father should impart to his daughter. I finally got it.

He pauses.

Mark: Generosity. Be generous. With your time. With your love. With your life.

Rachel: Okay.

Mark: I'm sorry, Rachel. I'm so tired.

Rachel: It's okay.

Mark: Don't cry for me.

Rachel: I won't.

Mark: Be generous. Always.

--From the “On the Beach” episode of ER (text from and youtube)

The above scene from ER is one of final ones for Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards), who finally succumbs to a brain tumor in this episode. It is one of my favorite moments from television (and it also introduced me to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole). I haven’t watched much of the series since then, though I have tuned in now and then. A couple of weeks ago, I tuned in once more as the series in its final season and I’d read that Dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle) was returning. The final scene of “The Beginning of the End” reveals Carter receiving hemo-dialysis (we find out in the next episode that he is need of a kidney transplant), and I couldn’t help but think again of the above scene from “On the Beach.”

These are the last words of a man at the end of his life who has realized and settled on what life is all about. And how much it reminds me of God’s heart and desire for us. To pay attention. To “be in the room.” To love:
Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
—Jesus, in Matthew’s account (5:14)

"I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
—Jesus, in Luke’s account (6:35)

Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
—Peter, in one of his letters (I Peter 4:7)
The older I get, the more I believe it all comes down to this, to love. We get so swept up in the must-be-dones, agendas and worries of life that it becomes all too easy to forget. But it’s scenes like this one that invite me to remember.

(Image: NBC) miscctgy