Christ In Winter: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter©
“The problem with middle-aged people,” Don Lemkau said to me, “is that they think they’ll never get old. But everybody gets old.”
I was 42. He was 72. I believed him. I knew I would get old. Still, even though I believed, I didn’t understand. Believing and understanding are two different things.
Now, though, now that I’m older than Don was then, I don’t just believe, I understand. I’m still sort of mad at him, though.
Don was officially retired when I was appointed as the Directing Pastor at Wesley UMC in Charleston, IL. He was on our staff part-time as a Minister of Visitation. I’m still mad at him for disillusioning me about getting old. At 42, I thought I was plenty old enough.
On his 74th birthday, I used Don as the object lesson for the kids time in worship. Don was sitting in the chancel, pastoral liturgist for the day, looking very dignified, as he always did. I told the kids to take a good look at him and explained that some day they would be as old as he. It was my way of getting back at him for disillusioning me, and my opportunity to disillusion them. When I asked them if they could ever get that old, they all agreed it was not possible. That’s the great thing about kids; hard to disillusion.
Don was right. I didn’t think I’d get old; not really. Even now, I don’t think I’ll get any older, in the sense of getting any more decrepit than I am now. I’m slow enough; surely I can’t get any slower.
When my father was about 94, we were trying to help him out of the restaurant where we had taken him for supper. There was just one little step, but he couldn’t make it. He said, “I just didn’t know anybody could get this bad and still be alive.”
Yes, I’ll get older and punier. My children will have to drag me out of restaurants and baseball stadia and basketball arenas and off the pickleball court. [Although I’ll tell my pastor that I’m too stove up to come to church.] But I can’t do anything about it by worrying about it now. “Sufficient for the day is the puniness thereof.” [Matthew 6:34. As usual, my rendering from the Greek might be a little questionable.]
I’ve never understood the people who want to disillusion younger people about what will happen to them. I am especially irritated at older people who tell children how bad it will be “in the real world.” Okay, they’re correct, but why destroy the present with knowledge of the future?
What’s wrong with an illusion? I intend to go out in a blaze of glory, facing down the terrorists who have invaded the coffee shop where I am receiving the Nobel Prize Peace Prize for the advances I have made to quantum field theory--applying gravitational truth vibes to the speech of politicians so that whatever comes out of their mouths is automatically converted to the truth before it reaches the ears of citizens--convincing the terrorists to give up their extremist ways simply by the power of the stories I tell them. [Sort of like Scheherazade.] If you don’t think that’s realistic, keep it to yourself.
I tweet as yooper1721.