Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mortality, Legacy, Love, and Life - Black

Some of my most enjoyable social and inspirational moments are spent in our seniors’ residences and care facilities, whether I’m leading a scheduled worship service or engaging in an impromptu music session. I have a whale of a time singing my head off and playing an instrument, and sharing encouragement with my dear friends.
But, no illusions. It has to be getting unpleasant listening to this guy as the voice gets older, less dependable, and ornery (wants to do its own thing); but the gracious residents invite me back. It can be embarrassing, though, when singing a song or hymn I’ve known for decades, only to have the words evaporate in mid-verse, or the voice pop-fly somewhere I don’t intend. Besides, while concentrating on playing the instrument I seem to have insufficient brain power left for concentrating on pitching my voice and singing the words correctly, and as a result I sing flat and words come out jumbled. (Didn’t used to do that, but it happens now!)
Do you identify with my experience on one level or another? Those things which were no problem from the time of our youth become increasingly problematic. It might show up in a little breathlessness when hurrying, or in one occasionally aching joint, then another, and then another–and more frequently; that sort of thing.
It’s a reminder (as if one needs reminding) that we live our temporary lives in an aging body. Although good diet, dietary supplements, exercise, and all-round healthy living are to be encouraged, and may result in the enjoyment of a higher level of mobility and health–and for longer–than if we didn’t engage in them, the fact is our lives as lived here are temporary.
Once the realization strikes some people that they aren’t going to be around forever–for the invincibility of youth has fled, and their ‘up-an-go has up-and-went’–they begin to face their mortality. Some prominent personalities, tycoons, and leading politicians attempt to set in place a legacy, such as establishing a foundation that will better the lives of others.
For example, a century ago the Carnegie Foundation provided for the promotion of literacy and the arts in North America and Britain by funding the establishment of libraries and art-related institutions. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien set up an aid program for Africa. Bill and Melinda Gates of Microsoft Corporation channel funding and resources towards areas such as education and healthcare. A ‘temporary immortalisation’–to live on in collective memory– may be achieved by doing significant deeds to enhance the lives of others before passing off the stage of life and time. Few of us have either that kind of money or influence. Have we no legacy to leave?
Thank God for people in our community making a positive difference in the lives of children, youth, adults, the physically and developmentally challenged, and seniors, as they give of their time and share their abilities. Doing this with genuine humility and grace reveals loving action. "Love is from God," and "God is love," wrote St. John (1 John 4:7a, 16). And, "The world and its desires pass away, but the [person] who does the will of God lives forever" (in 1 John 2:17).
We can enjoy a legacy of life now and forever as we respond to God’s love through receiving the gift of His Son into our lives. I daren’t leave this life without Him!
The above article was first published in the Southwestern Ontario newspaper, The Watford Guide Advocate, June 19, 2008 - home of Peter A. Black's weekly column, P-Pep!
He is the author of the children's / family book "Parables from the Pond," which is being used in a variety of settings.


Dolores Ayotte said...

Good stuff Peter...yes the aging process does pose its challenges but we all seem to be in it together! Could be worse, that's what I think. :)

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Peter, for once again putting aging in its context. We cannot avoid it and we can choose how we respond and it sounds to me like you have chosen a healthy response.

Peter Black said...

Thank you for your kind comments, Dolores and Eleanor.
"We're in [the aging process and facing its challenges] together," and "[choosing] how we respond." These provide comforting exclamation points! :)
Blessings to you, too.

violet said...

I can imagine the seniors at the home you visit are just thrilled you're there, enthusiastic and smiling. Your legacy of warmth and caring won't be soon forgotten, no matter how your no-longer-dependable body messes up the delivery.

Donna Mann said...

I know what you mean about fun time with the seniors. I love it too. Aren't they (we) a great bunch. I don't know if it's the tea and crumbits, but they keep inviting me back too.

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