Darkness before the sun
My mother was born in 1924, which makes her 98. The year she took her first breath coincided with the formation of the Mercedes-Benz Corporation, the naming of J. Edgar Hoover to head the FBI, the fascists winning the election in Italy by 2/3 majority and the end of construction of the Wrigley Building. As one of 11 children, she has witnessed the passing of eight of her siblings; only two “young” sisters are living, one 86, the other 92. She has attended dozens of funeral and memorial services during the past 30 or so years to bid goodbye to her contemporaries, of whom none exist today. None of her work, church, neighborhood friends or acquaintances are “left standing.” What an odd feeling being the last one, responsible for “shutting the lights” on the way out. How tough to live in a “discard society” as the body and mind ebb daily, forcing others to assist you with daily routines, every passing day a reminder of diminishing returns. And yet, she forges on, undeterred, with an incredible will to live sharing her experiences with the few who are willing to listen.
It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that youth is wasted on the young. This idea must have impregnated my mind several nights ago, for when returning to bed from a mandatory pit stop, I began to think about how it would feel to be Benjamin Button. The main character of a popular 2008 film who ages in reverse, I rode side-saddle with him from my pillow remembering he was born in 1918 with the appearance and chinks of a very old man, a male version of my Mom. Abandoned by his father in a nursing home, the “old infant” easily blended with the elderly residents despite having the mind and responses of a child. As a young adult with wrinkles and maladies, he sets off to find himself by working in a tugboat crew and traveling the world. Upon returning home and sharing many more experiences, he meets Daisy, the “little girl” who frequently visited her grandmother in his old nursing home. Now a full-grown woman traveling chronologically in the opposite direction but in a temporary comparable physical age, she falls tragically in love with Benjamin. Of course, as she aged and matured, he began to look and act like an adolescent, halting this impossible romance. In the spring of 2003, at the ripe age of 85 and looking like a newborn, he dies in Daisy’s arms. The curious case of Benjamin Button finally took its toll, and I finally fell asleep.
Darkness to light
And then, during this week’s Bible study, the light shone upon me. If the natural response is to conclude that our demise occurs whether we are coming or going, the teacher took an unexpected detour as he delved into the first verses of the first chapter of Genesis. Humankind’s time clock and rhythm calls for us to sleep through the night, get up as the sun rises and utilize the daytime hours accordingly. As the sun begins to wane and the body and mind tires, we prepare to go back to temporary hibernation as darkness engulfs us. In other words, we begin in light only to end the journey in darkness. Yet, God’s process is quite the opposite. As He created the earth, we see it is without form and dark, soon followed by light, heaven, seas, rivers, trees, the moon to reflect the sun, the stars, the birds and the other living creatures, and finally man and woman. God’s Eden was a perfect place where His light shone supreme until original sin put a damper and a dark cloud on humanity. But Our Father wants us to make our daily path where at the end of the day we are faced with the light of His glory. Surely, we may not be able to correct our time clocks to end the day in brightness, but we certainly can adopt a spiritual posture that allows us to sleep at night understanding it is his splendor that dissipates the shadows. Thus, the curious case of Our Creator.
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