Arriving home last night we listened to a voice message from a friend Wilma telling us that her husband Al had passed away and his memorial service is scheduled for this afternoon. Al was 77 years of age, ten years older than I am.
If my first retirement year has not underscored for me already the transitory nature of life, these moments definitely do. There are more and more of these. So many of our friends, ageing as we are, become ill and some die. I have never been so conscious of the nearness of death. That’s noteworthy because the pastoral work in which I spent forty years of my life required me to visit seniors in nursing homes and hospital rooms and even be near for their dying moments. Yet I remained objective and detached. Now it’s personal.
Al had some health issues in recent years. Nevertheless, since I am 67 years old, age 77 does not seem so far off. I know how quickly time moves. It almost evaporates.
Christine and I, me with my sprained ankle, attended an afternoon 50th anniversary celebration of Arvid and Ruth Olson yesterday. It was very well attended by friends. Given the event, we saw a sea of white hair. As I hobbled along, I fit right in.
Al was a gentle and kind man. I liked him very much. Friends, children, spouse will speak well of him of him today because it will be true.
What will be said of me when I go? That is likely the most profitable aspect of reflections of this sort. I have time and I can make course corrections in some relationships where I need to do that. I can allow some of the graces of God to infect me more profoundly than they have so that I am more like my Master than myself. That would be an improvement. And I can use the time I have profitably. What I am glad about is that friendships have come to mean more to me in this phase of my life than they ever have. That makes life rich and enjoyable.
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal..
2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord – 7 for we live by faith, not by sight. 8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition to please him