CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter…
An Indiana University tweet shows “the legendary Frank Zappa appeared at IU in 1978.” But isn’t Frank performing now? And isn’t 1978 contemporary? What’s this “legendary” and “1978” business, as though they’re in the past?
When you’ve lived a long time, everything seems like now. Of course, everything seems like past, too, and that’s the same thing. Stick with me on this…
The beauty of old age is that you’re always in the present, just as the psychologists and the bingo parlors tell us we need to be. [You must be present to win.]
When my wife taught high school—I think this particular incident was in the 1980s—one of her students asked her, “What was Hitler really like?” “How old do you think I am?” she replied, She was sorry she did so.
But the kid understood. She’s always been in every moment. Every old person has been in every moment. Every really young person, too.
When our granddaughter was about two, if we told a story about some past family event, long before she was born, she would say, “I was there, too.” Kids understand what old people actually live--we are there all the time, in every moment, past and present.
It’s only as we get into school and then start working up and wearing down through one decade after another that time starts dividing into past and present. We get broken into fragments of time, some past, some present, none of them now.
The gift of new life and of old life—and sometimes they are the same—is to be always in the fullness of now.
“All we ask [in old age] is to be allowed to remain the authors of our own story.” Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, p. 140.
I learned a lot about the eternal now by having cancer. NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them is published by AndrewsMcmeel. It is available in paperback, ebook, audio, Czech, and Japanese.