Justin: In the Feast of Being Able to. Amen.

Not How We Imagined, Maybe Better – Part 1

Written a year ago today, has remained in draft.
Draft from Dec. 15, 2010

Memo: Preliminary Draft of a Prayer to God the Father
– John Ciardi, excerpt
“Thank you for Claremont and choices and for this daughter
and for the road I go well enough as things go.

I mean, sir, it does lead on, and I thank you.
It is not what I imagined. It may be better.
Better, certainly, than what I remember from starting”

The past three weeks have held notable occurrences for me. A friend from high school retired from the Army after twenty years of service. A friend from years gone by told me he was getting a divorce. A doctor began putting time lines on a family member’s life.

Each of these things is momentous. Each represents the start or the end of an epoch in a human life. All of these are placeholders in time, to be referenced in the future as “that was after the divorce” or “when he was still working”. I believe such great direction changes yearn for common questions: Is your life unfolding as you imagined? Are you happy with your life?

I estimate that most humans die having never reached that satisfied “future” condition that we envision at every step of life. I imagine that the elderly who do reach full satisfaction only do so by the weight of their experience and wisdom finally bearing down upon them and demanding that they make peace with themselves.

Tomorrow may mark the end of my life at 39 years of age, at which time my entire biography is completed, NOT CUT SHORT.

If God decides to take your life or to allow your life to be taken, then your life was not cut short. So, should I die tomorrow, my life is then complete, with a completed story of actions and decisions leading up to my last moment at age 39 or age 16 or age 88. The only reason we think people are cut short is because by averages, we couldn’t have guessed their ending.

I say this and I know it to be true, yet it is almost impossible to take to heart.

Maybe life could be viewed like this: as a huge novel that has page numbers, but you still have no idea at all how long it is. For years you just keep reading, all along believing there will come an end with some resolution. Then one day you suddenly turn the page at 21,900 or at 32,850 and it has ended, mid sentence. No finale, little resolution of plot, it’s just over, like the author stopped writing.

So which is better? To have believed there was satisfaction to come, and always have lived for some resolution that would make life complete before it was over? Or to have actually stopped as often as you thought of it and pondered how interesting the book was and how much fun just reading the story actually was?

Speaking Biblically, the answer is both.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Phillipians Chapter 4

And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? – Luke 12:25

These are just two examples of the admonition to be satisfied (unachievable without thankfulness, btw).

However, as you probably know, we aren’t to focus our hearts on stuff in this life. How can we if we are “not of this world”.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; Matthew 6:20

So have we learned to reconcile earthly satisfaction with goals? The comforting peace of our Lord with a longing for something that isn’t ours until death?

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