Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Minutes to Live

A friend was in Honolulu visiting family last week when the alert went out that a ballistic missile was headed to Hawaii. The alert stated that it was not a drill. She was absolutely convinced that she had just minutes to live.

We know now of course that the alert was a false alarm. But for the people who went through it, who believed it, something profound happened. How could it not?

What my friend experienced is her story to tell. But hearing her tell it made me imagine the experience for myself. A beautiful day in paradise. I’m enjoying the sun, maybe strolling along the beach. I feel good. And then I get a warning that in minutes everything is going to blow up and we are all going to die.

That seems different to me than becoming ill, or having an accident, or even being attacked by another person. In this scenario, everything around me still looks the same. I still feel good. Nothing seems dangerous. And yet I believe that in minutes something is going to fall out of the clear blue sky and my life is going to end, and there is no escape.

We don’t know of course what we would actually do. Some things you just can’t rehearse. But what can we learn from imagining such a scenario? What would I think about? What would I do? What would I feel?

And after learning that the alarm was false, what would I carry with me into a life that just moments before I thought was never going to happen? How would my life be different? How would I be different? Would I remember the lessons of those minutes when death was imminent, or would I settle back into my life as it was before?

There are many ways that the people in Hawaii who lived through this last week could look at what happened. It was a mistake. Perhaps it was also a gift. How many of us are given a few minutes to look our death that closely in the face and then live to tell the tale?

And perhaps the rest of us can share a little of that gift by listening to the stories of those who were there, and by imagining what we might have experienced and learned if we had been there ourselves.

Isn’t it sad that so often it takes facing death to appreciate life and each other fully? ~Lori Earl

6 thoughts on “Minutes to Live”

  1. From what I've gleaned from this botched situation, there should have been many more precautions in place. How does one excuse false alarms when they have been trained in the position? Still, I agree with your point here, Galen. When confronted by an impending demise, how do we react? Are we ready? Do we panic? Or are we content in the knowledge that God is in control?
    Blessings to you!

  2. Right, Martha. Regardless of the reason for the mistake, the people who lived through those minutes had an opportunity to go deep within and face what all of us will face eventually. A true "dress rehearsal"!

  3. My favorite toddler moved to O'ahu with his family in October. They experienced this alert. His mom explained to me how it felt to be her, during the minutes between the first alert and the text saying it was false.

    I can't say for sure how I'd feel, but when my kids and I recently had the experience of having less than 5 minutes to evacuate our home at midnight, due to a large fire coming close, I did an energetic 'quick release' of everything in our home. What mattered to me, very clearly, in those moments, was that the three of us were together and healthy and we could re-build anything (it might be difficult, it might feel painful at times, but we could do it, physically and energetically). I didn't know I had that strength of clarity, until those moments.

    I would hope that I would feel that peace in the potential moment of death, as what happened in HI. That I would breathe in and center and feel the goodness around me, and know I loved as much as I could, and experienced the fullness of life I was meant to, and that I'd feel peace, in those moments, and that peace would ripple out to whomever, and wherever, it was meant to touch. And, that when I realized it was a 'false alarm', that peace would stay with me, as I move through daily life.

  4. I think the quote at the end sums up what I would hope we would all feel if we had this miracle. We do need to take time to appreciate our daily moments and one another.
    I would hope In facing death that I could be at peace with the way I have chosen to live my life and that I would feel the nearness of my Savior. I do have a strong belief In the spirit world and that I would be greeted by my family who have passed on. I have great faith in our Heavenly Father's plan for us all; so I would hope that faith would sustain me through whatever may come.
    Sending warm thoughts and hugs your way for another great post!

  5. Yes, you had a similar scare in the fire, but that time the threat was real. I like your description of the quick release. Like you, I would hope that the peace or whatever lesson I learned would stay with me. I had a glimpse of nirvana/heaven/enlightenment whatever you want to call it, when I fell off the roof at my cabin. For those moments of falling, I was in the most perfect place of pure love and joy. While I was not able to remain completely in that state, the memory of it has had a huge impact on my life since. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and story.

  6. LeAnn, like you, I hope that I would face my imminent death with peace. In the meantime, I hope that I can pay more attention to opportunities to connect with others, to be kind, to be grateful. Thanks for commenting.

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