A friend was serious. “Why don’t you write an autobiography?” I offered…in a way I have…some of it fiction [it’s not the WHOLE unexpurgated truth] about me until I’m 18. It’s in the computer and could end up on a book shelf. But not now.
Still, this day…my son Andrew’s 44th birthday…holding a beautiful recent letter from my first-born, Matthew, about his gratitude for parenting…seeing picts of Andrew and family and Matthew and family…plus more than time to think about life’s journey…I just may take me beyond my 18th birthday. Of course I will not do so unscathed and without pain and more pain. Yet, life has been very imbalanced to the good and valued. Never a no-hitter, but still, more wins than losses…many more.
In the mix of all this—reflecting my personal life journey—I came upon today’s reflection by Tom Ehrich…and found each paragraph of considerable value. So. I share it now…with only two questions…will you please read it? And. Please take some of your time for you…to think about the personal journey you have experienced…and how life looks through the windshield.
Goodness to each of you. May your value never be denied…and your gratitude for God’s blessings never forgotten or neglected.
Mark, a little older now than 18.
July 7, 2016
By Tom Ehrich
I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.” (Psalm 82.6-7)
It was 5:30am. I had just started my writing when my daughter-in-law appeared with a fretful one-year-old who was teething and unable to sleep.
I spent the next two hours holding her and comforting her. For thirty minutes she slept soundly on my shoulder, her mouth gaping, her head lolling to one side, her breathing steady, her entire body clad in pink pajamas relaxing. It was magical.
I might not know all the ins and outs of parenting. But I do know how to sit still and give a child a safe place to find sleep. I remember holding her older sister one day for almost two hours while sitting on a bench in Madison Square Park. I thought myself the most fortunate grandfather on earth.
As day dawned over our woodland and lawn, I mentally composed a poem. I called it “To Nora on her wedding day.” I imagined a day far in the future when her father would escort her down an aisle to join her life to someone whose shoulder she had learned to trust. I doubted that I would be on hand for that event. “What I have is today,” I said, and I felt grateful for that.
The line between god and human is thin. We share in godliness as “children of the Most High,” and then, with barely a pause for breath, we explode and rage against each other and “die like mortals.” No matter how fine we think ourselves, when we lose our way we will “fall like any prince.”
A teething one-year-old can’t help herself, of course. She cries in pain one minute and yields to sleep the next. As we grow up, we should learn to handle our dual natures. Her two-year-old sister does better, but still has meltdowns at dinner when she bullies, sulks, and storms to get her way.
My hope for both girls is that, when the time of their adulthood comes, they will have learned to care for other people. I hope they will be generous, self-sacrificial, merciful – just like God.
Too many people never grow up. They acquire adult bodies and adult capabilities but continue behaving like whimpering teethers, bossy toddlers, self-serving adolescents. They act like bullies, they think only of themselves. Wherever they go, from workplace to senior center, they make life miserable for the people around them.
The Psalmist gave fair warning that life cannot work this way. Human history reinforces the lesson. Humanity has known constant warfare, constant oppression, because people stifle their better natures.
My hope for Nora is that being held on a morning in June will free her to become a lover of humanity, not a hater.