Both my wife and I were born in temperate regions close to the 45th parallel. Christina was born in Portland,OR, I was born in Paris, France. As such we have been used to notice the changes of the seasons. When we were in Asia, we very much appreciated the charm of the tropics but somehow missed the metamorphosing of the landscapes that comes with the passing of time. In SE. Asia, there seems to be only two seasons: hot and humid, and rainy and humid.
Since coming back to the Western part of the northern hemisphere, we take great joy at observing the changing coat of the earth. In the Spring, it wears a vibrant, almost fluorescent vivid green dress, only to leave in a flashy scarlet fiery coat in the Fall. Whereas the green of Spring reinvigorates us into a sense of rebirth after a long winter, the profound fiery colors of Fall tell us of the beauty of old age.
In the Northwestern hemisphere of the world, a place where humankind are evaluated by the efficiency of their productivity, old people are often set aside, seen as inefficient and backward. This results in discouragement, depression, and a fear of old age. They say that in SE Asia, the effects of menopause are lessened because in these regions of the world old folks are appreciated, almost venerated for the wisdom that comes from having lived so many years. People there sometimes even follow the biblical injunction of rising from their sitting position at the arrival of an older person in the room. Nature teaches us this beautiful concept of how God sees the ending of our days. A fiery flame giving the beauty, the heat, and the warmth of its wisdom to all that come near it.
Though some may say, “Oh, come on, I know many old people, and they are not like that. They are cranky, obnoxious, mean …!” But who knows if they are just responding to the way they are treated; trying with everything they’ve got left to keep a dignified head above the condescending waters of human prideful mockery that would otherwise swallow them.
It is easy to hold a grudge against our parents. As adults, we easily sit in judgment of their words and deeds. With disdain we point the finger and say, “ How could they…” We do not realise that in turn one day our children will point that same accusatory finger at us.
What is worse is that, since our parents are not often present in the realm of our imaginary kangaroo court and even sometime within the realm of humanity itself, we judge and condemn them in absentia. Not only does the Bible forbid such an illegal court, but it also forbids taking a reproach against people.
A young adult I know just told us of a story. He was on a nature hike with his young when suddenly a menacing stone rolled down the cliff. The father quickly adjusted his backpack and grabbed the child. To the amazement of both, the stone fell near the place where the child stood. Shaken but thankful, father and son continued their trek. Later that evening when telling of his day to his mother, the child said in a disconcerted voice, “... and Daddy let go of my hand….!” Yes Daddy let go of his hand but it was only to readjust his backpack so he could take the child into his arms. But to this day, even after the child has grown up, all he remembers is that at that traumatic moment, Daddy let go of his hand.
This presented the Daddy in question with a crucial lesson. He remembers things from his youth for which he holds a grudge against his parents. Many details are vague now, and even distorted, but he still holds a grudge. The trekking episode with his own son made him wonder if perhaps his judgment was not a little clouded by the immaturity of childhood.
The Dad in question started rethinking at the things he held against his parents and realized that maybe things were not necessarily the way he thought them to be; that maybe his accusation against his own parents were as ill-founded as his son's accusation of desertion at a time of danger.
This was a landmark for this young father and a good lesson. We are coming near the holiday times when families get together for family dinners and reunions. Let us try to withhold this accusatory finger against our parents. It may be that Dad was just ‘re-adjusting his backpack!’
I am not ashamed to admit that I am an avid Star Trek fan. The famous Vulcan blessing rings well in my ears and here is why.
Life is full of complicated choices. As we hopefully make better decisions the older we get, there is often a very little of anything that we can do about these messy choices of our immature youth. Sometimes they follow us for a lifetime.
I have made bad decisions in my youth which led to lessons learned, to wishing that I had the opportunity to take the test again. I have noticed that very often, life presents us with the opportunity to take the test again and hopefully make the right choice this time. It doesn't do much for the people we may have hurt but it helps clean the slate of our soul. This is where longevity helps: As long as we are alive, we have the opportunity to a second chance; to sort of clean up our mess. I do believe that God allows second chances. So when we wish someone a long life, we extend to them the hope of a second chance. When we try to stay alive as long as possible we allow for these second chances to happen.
In his role as a Vulcan, Léonard Nimoy used a hand gesture as he gave the Vulcan blessing. Being openly Jewish, he used the hand gesture from the ancient Jewish Temple ritual of the Aaronic blessing issued by the priests over the nation of Israel. The gesture copies the Hebrew letter 'shin’ which represents the Name 'El Shaddai’. That blessing says, “The LORD bless you, and keep you: The LORD make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Deuteronomy 6:24-26).
May the blessings of His contenance turned towards us allow us all second chances.
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