I tried to talk to Daniel about this over the summer, particularly when his other grandfather died. I told him that I wasn’t worried about my own death, though I know it could come as suddenly as Lew’s. I’m at the age where people of my generation are dropping out by ones and twos. It comes to us all. But neither am I giving up on life and just waiting for Jesus.
In his writings on Middle-earth, J.R.R. Tolkien explained why his demiurgic Powers, the Valar, seemed to do so little to aid in the conflict between the free peoples and the Dark Lord. He explained that having built the earth from the elements up, they couldn’t just tear it apart to root out evil without also ruining it for the people who lived there. Also, the longer the story of the world ran, and the closer it got to its fulfillment, the less there was for the powers who began it to do. You can’t just change the theme in the next to last chapter; by that time, there isn’t room to work that much new into it. Massive intervention and fundamental changes of plan just aren’t in the cards.
By the time you’re my age, your life is pretty much what you’ve made it. You have, one may hope, a few good years left to do some new things, or maybe some of the same stuff a few more times, but you’re not going to change what your life has been all about. I’m not going to start a new career, or get another degree, though I might publish a book or take my grandsons on more special trips. And though I might live many more years yet, the years I have left in which I can be really active are fewer than that. I mean, I’ve always loved the outdoors, but the ground is getting harder all the time to sleep on, you know? The time will come when I’ll want to go back inside and sleep in my bed, no matter how lovely it is outside.
Blessed are those who reach my age and are satisfied with how they’ve spent their years. (Actually, blessed are those who reach my age at all, but that’s another thing.) I look back over my life and am happy with what I’ve done. Oh, it would have been grand to have done even more, to have risen higher, or gone more places, or whatever. But I did good work in the field to which I was called. “A workman unashamed” and all that. I was not entirely unprofitable to the Lord. And I may have a few more licks to get in for God before I’m done.
My focus these days is on my family, particularly two little boys I want to help navigate the passage to adulthood with. And I have a few things on my bucket list yet. I have a secret prayer or two I beseech God to answer. There are still a few things to desire, and to strive for. But mostly, I’m just living in the present, enjoying yet another fall. Fall was always my favorite time of year, though spring has recently been surpassing it in my esteem. But I’m trying to quit looking past the current season, to be in a hurry to get someplace. I was always in a hurry, but there’s not much of anywhere left to go. There is simply Now, and Now is good, a gift from the hand of God.