Category: Perceptions

dropwe spend so much time in our developing years in efforts to lose our innocence. It’s believed, apparently, that maturity and sophistication requires it. We must never—at any cost—be perceived as being naïve and gullible. This is a social stigma we rarely live down. So we rush to the gathering of “the cool” hoping that we don’t fall out of favor with these hipsters by displaying the slightest

Josiah and the horse he rode in on

vestige of innocence before their judging eyes.

Strangely, however, once our “eyes have been opened” and we have “arrived” in spiffy chic company, we find a deep longing for what we were so eager to rid ourselves of. The producer and singer, Steve Taylor, once wrote the lyric:

“Innocence, innocence, innocence lost. All souls want it back, some uncover the cost.”

Perhaps this longing—this desire to return to the simplicity of the garden—accounts for the peace we often feel in the presence of the yet-unspoiled purity of children. Perhaps it accounts in some way for the fact that something in the sweet strains of music has the capacity to charm even “the savage breast.” Why were we so eager to lose our innocence?

“…prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation…”  from Paul’s letter to the Philippian believers—2:15

As a father, I remember so fondly the intimate sweetness of my innocent little boys. There were countless delights in the presence of their sincere, unsuspicious, and unabashed love. Wide-eyed and guileless, they gave me eyes to see things I had become blind to. No wonder the Messiah told us that unless we become (again) like children, we will never even perceive the kingdom of God—much less enter it.  (Matthew 18:3)

I miss these little guys,…though I love the young men they’ve become! May they never despise innocence.

This Week’s Message from God’s Word

The Long Run

I’ve let myself go! It’s just days until the Midsummer Night’s 5K Run in Lexington, Kentucky. For our family it’s an annual tradition, followed by ice cream at Coldstone. My wife is of course, all set to go—never breaking stride with her exercise, fitness and good nutrition (Well,… almost never 😉 ) As for me, I haven’t run consistently since, like, January, when my knees began to give me trouble.

But away with excuses! I really want to be there again this year—and not as the photographer. The teenagers have already “thrown down the gauntlet” that they intend to embarrass their ancient parents with their faster times. Yeah, well,…maybe,…but you have this one enormous advantage: An average age of 16. So there.

So anyway, I’m out there attempting to run this morning and I had a “perception” I want to share with you. I had only managed a paltry 1.5 sweaty, hyperventilating miles when I was giving serious consideration to reducing the pace a bit (Perhaps to a dead stop?). As it happened, though, I saw, to my left, approaching from the opposite corner, a neighbor and friend out for her run. We greeted one another at the corner, and to my surprise she turned round and came alongside me headed in my direction, with the words—”I’ll run with you,…there’s dogs up there.”

The whole "sixpack" a few years back after our run

The whole “sixpack” a few years back after our run

So we passed a few moments together “catching up”. I gaspingly tried to hold up my end of the conversation till we parted at the stop sign. She was in much better shape, out training for a half-marathon.

Before I dragged myself back into our driveway, a pleasant thought occurred to me. My neighbor and I were out after the same goal, but on different courses. We were unalike in how far we could go and our stamina for the effort. We both had our liabilities—she an apprehension of dogs, and me an apprehension of dropping dead. Going along together was good for both of us. I actually finished the run. She got past the dogs. And we both had the brief blessing of the company of friends.

Now there’s a life metaphor for  ya!

Old People

I didn't know he could play the guitar!

I didn’t know he could play the guitar!

Maybe it started when I was a little kid. I loved to play games as a boy and I had this wonderful Great Grandmother (who remembered the Titanic, the Wright Brothers, and WWI—among many other fascinating things!) We’d play dominoes, and drink soda and giggle together. Perhaps it grew as my Dad took me to those “awful” nursing homes where people sit and stare, smell funny, and seemed all alone in the world? I felt for them. But I also found many of them to be delightful persons I would grow to call, “my friend.”

Yes, “I love old people!” There, I said it. Good thing, too, because I’m fast becoming one. To my sons I already am. More and more of my friends seem to look like I remember their parents (or even grandparents). Without a premature demise we are all “old people in waiting.”

Now this doesn’t mean we have to act old. We need not feel compelled to have extended conversations about bodily functions while standing in the aisle at Walmart. We can try our best to avoid saying “Why, when I was your age…” But hey, if we break down and demonstrate how decrepit and out-of-touch we are, please forgive. We paid our dues and we earned it. We’ve been around long enough to have made plenty of mistakes. Many of us have actually learned things from those errors. It just might be that that doddering little old lady could be a tremendous resource to that youngster who’s keeping his distance.

Grandpa could make a harmonica talk.

Grandpa could make a harmonica talk.

Yes, the older I get, the more I appreciate the grace that it took for these heroes of mine to become the wonderful “old” people that they are today. They are the passing generation who endured the Great Depression—the victors of WWII. These young men and women were looking forward to life—only a “moment” later to look around and find that their journey had almost been completed.  In Proverbs 20:29 it says “…gray hair is the splendor of the old.” We would be wise to learn their lessons drawn from their years. They deserve our honor.

Speaking of honor…long ago I began to paint this oil of my Grandpa, William Earl Pack. Never finished it. Miss ya Grandpa! See you again where our hope is found!