A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Those Autumn Years

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

If a picture is worth a thousand words,
then may I will skip the slide show please…….

It was day three of vacation.
The sky was blue and the temps were warm….
and I was headed to the beach.
The day couldn’t get any better.

And then the phone rang.

Caller ID said it was Lois,
a longtime friend of my parents.

Well into her 80’s,
I hadn’t talked to her since my mom’s passing three years ago.

Hello” I said, refraining from saying her name,
and thus needing to explain to her how I knew it was Lois.

Is this you David?” she asked.
Yes Lois, It’s me.  How are you?”

If there were ever three more dangerous words in the English language,
then “ How are you,” I don’t know what they are.

To most of us, they are merely a greeting.
To an 87 year old woman,
it was the starting bell for a horse race.
Out of the gates, Lois bolted like a young thoroughbred.

Oh, things haven’t been good since my surgery.”

I asked God if I should even dare to ask………

“What surgery did you have, Lois” cringing as I asked.

It was my hip, they replaced it.
My bowels haven’t been right ever since.”

We were one minute into the conversation,
and we already went there.

In my earlier days,
TMI  described a nuclear plant that almost had a meltdown.
To most people, it means exactly what Lois was throwing out at me.
For me  in the moment, it meant traumatic mental images.

Two minutes prior, I was singing along with Sirus satellite radio,
anticipating 5 foot waves and the feel of sand between my toes.
Now, I was being given a rundown on the effectiveness of various stool softeners.

“Then this nasal drip started” she lamented.
I realized then, that no bodily fluid was to be free from the conversation.

I haven’t been to ladies Bible study in three months,
and this drip makes me want to cough all the time.
Plus, Paul (her husband) has kidney stones,
and they won’t pass, so we’re just up the creek without a paddle.”

She may have been up a creek,
but I was being avalanched by a tidal wave of unfiltered anatomical notifications.

“And I won’t go to Bible study if Paul can’t take me.” she continued.
“Those kids are probably waiting in the bushes to jump me when I leave.”

The conversation was now moving from unfiltered to unglued.

As I tried to imagine what teenagers would hide in bushes outside a church at 11 in the morning.

I began to think what is like to be 87 and know that your body is betraying you.

There comes a time when everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.
It is inevitable for all of us that our bodies begin to fail.

The only way to fully understand what elderly people endure each and every day,
is to go through it yourself. 

As I get older, I am beginning to have much more compassion for the elderly
as I experience changes in my body.

I have always been a lover of the autumn season,
but I’m not so sure how I feel about the impending autumn years of my life.

Yet there is a beauty in those whose hill top has long been traversed.
Scriptures teach us that we should respect and find great value in the elderly.

Job 12:12 says  Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

There is a common belief that we gradually become less relevant as we grow older.
The world is made for the young. 
Perhaps that is so.

But we are not of this world. When we live our lives for God,
our journey here does not end with our final breath.

I am glad that Lois called that day.
After all, I had three hours to kill till I got to the ocean,
and there likely won’t be that many more conversations with her.

Plus you never can learn too much about stool softeners.

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