I don't know about you, but my first big adventure into the greater world came in the form of a cross country train trip. I was 18, on break from nursing school (yes, I graduated from high school at age 17), money in my purse, and no parental guidance. Parental input, yes. "Don't go."
Gone! "See ya!" wouldn't want to be ya!
I bet you agree with me, if you are old, that 18 is just about the nicest age of all.
My sister and I had recently joined a "new religion" and I was traveling west to visit her at BYU in Provo, Utah.
Words cannot describe the happiness of this entire trip. Even when the drunk young man began edging in on me about 4 hours into the trip. I changed seats. He followed and set up camp in the seat directly behind me. Suddenly there was an old white haired man standing in the aisle by my seat. "Young lady, would you like me to sit with you?"
"Oh, yes. Thank you!"
I shared the rest of the journey, even when we changed trains in Chicago, with Mr. Dreher, (or Drehner......or some last name that was not pronounced like it was spelled.)
He was an Austrian Jew and was absolutely fascinating. His entire family had been lost in the holocaust....parents, brothers, sister, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, wife. A complete wipe-out of a family except for him.
Sole survivor, he came to America.
While I rattled on, feeling it my duty to convert him "to the only true church on the face of the earth"(I was not only sincere, I was arrogant) , he taught me about Judaism. He belonged to that unorthodox faction of Judaism that teaches there is no resurrection. I was fascinated because he seemed happy.
"How can you be happy?" I asked.
"Because I am good for good's sake. Being good is sane."
And he explained about life as constant, but where form and structure give way to the big ever-changing picture....
where life is eternal, but form and structure are lost at death.
"I am like a leaf on a tree," he said. He was at peace with the world.
Now that I am old, I think his peace came from living in the present.
The pain and horror of the past had catapulted him to where he would avoid the trap of "mentally revisiting" the past that calls us to re-live instead of live.
My angel friend lived completely in the today of the time.
Maybe that is what an earth-angel is....somebody who is completely in the present. No past. No future. This day is The Day!
A 94 year old woman asked me recently, "Why doesn't somebody teach me how to age? What am I supposed to be doing?"
Perhaps the answer for us all, not just the elderly, is: Live in today. This is the day which God has given us. Rejoice and be glad in it.
By the way, that was exactly what my 94 year old acquaintance was doing, but she just wasn't sure of herself.
And if you do not believe in life after death, remember what Socrates is supposed to have said at age 70 before his execution:
"All that is in me tells me there is life after death, but if I were to look back on my life to a night where I slept without dreams, I would rank that as one of my better times."
Shalom, my friends,