(On Memorial Day 2012, please excuse this reprise of a September 2011 post…offered with appreciation for Dad, Robert Roesler (father-in-law) and all who serve.)

There are some moments that demand more than their fair share of attention.

Or perhaps the truth is that some moments have a way of forcing us to focus on the things that really matter.

Every parent I know experiences this focus-adjustment the first time we hold, look into the eyes, or hear the voice of our child. Even in the throws of apprehension, uncertainty and outright fear, there is a clarity of purpose. An understanding that few things will ever matter more than the care and nurture of this person. (Thankfully there are additional reminders along the way that help us continue to refocus.)

Not all such moments are born of joy.

We approach the tenth anniversary of the unthinkable terror and unspeakable tragedy that captured us the morning of September 11, 2001. In that hour, and in countless moments following, the hole in our hearts reminded us that — in spite of all that consumes our days — only a few things really matter. For a season we were kinder to each other.

Between the joy of beginnings and the hole in the heart that comes with loss, if we’re lucky, we experience a fair share of moments that remind us that what matters most are the relationships we share, the lives we touch. What we do here endures. The compassionate ear, the unconditional gift.

Relationships transcend time and space. Nurtured, the rewards are immeasurable. This is what matters most. Most of us know it. We just lose our focus.

We will always be distracted by jobs, mortgage payments, the politic of the moment, and even the game of the weekend.

But can we find a way to focus on what matters most, apart from the moments of extreme? Might we be more attuned to the everyday moments that underscore our best intentions?

The reward for devoting attention to the things that really matter? The only thing that endures.