A quandary perhaps or just an apt title or salutation? Maybe just an opportunity to write something noteworthy, something other than my usual discourse about political theater. As is normal, I will try to convey something that I have learned or have knowledge of, something gleaned from my exhaustive years, a bit of astute wisdom perhaps. I would surmise that almost everyone has an idea or an inward definition of the words in the title but let us tarry awhile.
This past Sunday, the sermon in church was about faith. Faith, as described in the King James Bible is: “Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” KJV, 11:1. Simply put! One can say those same words a dozen different ways such as: "Our faith is a well-grounded assurance of that which we hope for and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see". Faith to me is a conviction. It's my unassailable faith in God. My certainty in The Creator, The Maker, The Great Architect of the Universe. This assumption is the foundation on which all the rest resides.
Now hope is an abstract entity, it holds our spirits tightly, moving us by desire, trust and spirit. It persists dutifully, singing constantly to our souls, never demanding anything from us. I am reminded of a poem by Emily Dickinson in which she addresses hope. I will share it with you.
Now hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.
And sweetest in the gale is heard.
And sore must be the storm that could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land and on the strangest sea
Yet never in extremity it asked a crumb of me.
This past week a friend of mind, Ricardo, died at the ripe old age of 76, young by all our present standards. It caused me to reflect in that I wonder if he had hoped for a longer life. Was he surprised to be so abruptly called away? Did he have time to consider his circumstance and did he have a well-founded faith with its assurances of a blessed immorality. Was he prepared or was he surprised?
I have a masonic brother, Lyle, who is had his leg amputated below the knee this week. I think I’d be asking myself, “why me Lord?” This brother has never smoked or drank whiskey. He has lived a good Christian life with the same woman for fifty years. He is a Vietnam veteran like myself but beset by numerous maladies. Karma? Bad luck? Genetics, Agent Orange? Life is not fare it would seem?
As for myself, I don’t dither on these things. I have lived a rich and full life. There has been pain and disappointment for sure but I am resilient and sturdy. I have survived many trials, a divorce, open heart surgery,etc. I have had to rebuilt my circumstances when required. I consider being healthy and abled bodied to be essential along with intellect and common sense and most of all, a sound work ethic. My mother planted those tiny seeds of faith in me long ago. Great was her faith that they would find fertile soil and produce fruit as in my Christian life and that of my children and grandchildren. I have an abiding faith in God and look forward to another reality, another journey. Death is not the end, just a new beginning. I trust God! Great is God's mercy and great is his faithfulness! In other words I have lived the only life I was destined to know.
I am in the winter of my years as are a lot of my acquaintances. Aging is a natural thing and unavoidable. If I can give you one parable or iota of truth worth remembering it’s this; Death is just an important part of living as was being born was. It’s a journey we all must take. If you have survived then it means you were strong and resilient, you adapted, you learned. Thank your ancestors because they had good genetics and have passed them down to you and you will continue as in your heirs.
I don’t hope for much these days except that my children and grandchildren flourish and prosper. I ask God for wisdom and to know the right of things. I don’t like pain but it’s a part of aging and I trust God will not to allow me more pain than I can endure or abide by. I have asked God for a glorious death, my life wagered in an epic conflict. In other words a purposeful death. But alas, I am old, what a silly request you say? I just can’t picture myself dying on some sick bed with people changing my diapers. A death with dignity is what I hope for. I want to die for something like "The Battle of Briton" or Patriots dying for their new nation, standing in a breach, holding the line so others may live. Chivalry is not dead. I don't need to be remembered or immortalized. I have faith that God will see to it. If not a glorious death then maybe one that is quick, such as a heart attack. Three minutes is not much time to endure, considering eternity? Faith and hope, I have the faith and I have a hope. I trust God to see to its appropriate conclusion. The following is a poem I wrote about aging and it’s my personal sentiments
An Old Man Ponders, By Thomas G Moore, September, 2015
An ancient warrior recalls a life too quickly gone by,
Ruminations stir in the reflection pool of his mind’s eye.
Old age has overtaken him quietly and unannounced,
He is keenly aware of what the palmist pronounced.
“What man is he that liveth and shall not see death?
Can he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?”
Where is the glorious death he forlornly pleas?
Why must he die on some shameful sickbed he grieves?
The fire is still there, reflected in the glint of his eye
The raging furnace still smolders in the cast of the die
The shadows gather! Where is that shining ray?
That will illuminate that dark valley and ominous fade?
I abide the time in an aura of ethereal light
Awaiting the certainty of my preordained plight
This transient life is but a synapse in a timeless sea
A connection between what was and what will be
The incubus awaits with its harrowing thirst
I am a warrior and will face mankind’s certain curse
For in this twilight I see a dark forest
With its shadowy forms and trebling chorus
For there is a path in there tried and true
That is used by all who doth pass there anew
Often well-traveled and oft well used
To cross that frightful ground, to gain a better view