My old college friends are by now well launched into their grandparent stage. I never thought the day would come, when my golfing buddies would throw me off for a day at the zoo with their grandchild – – and do it happily!!
I have to admit that feelings of “grand parenting” have crept into this old priest’s heart as well.
What is it that happens to us as we approach and live out our seventies and eighties? I think we finally realize the proper proportion things should have in our life. Things that were . . . pardon this! . . . HUGE when we were younger are now not so big.
I mean really, how important is the Disneyland vacation now? That promotion? The tattoo? The six pack abs? Perfect hair? The first place finish? That college acceptance? The right car/home/kitchen? They’re not nearly so important as we seniors look ahead to our final years.
Those things get smaller. What gets bigger? People get bigger. And not just friends and family; humanity, wherever it exists, becomes the most important thing in the world. We belong to each other. Can’t you feel it?
There’s this deep hunger, so hard to explain. A hunger that wants to see humanity at peace. A sickened feeling when we see a child ill fed or in tattered clothes. A deep connection to the mother or father who holds a crying child. The grief of parents and siblings weeping over the tragic loss of a young person. It all touches us now because we finally realize . . . they are a part of us. The Human Family.
There’s this feeling like, “Dear God, we’re better than this. How did we get HERE?!” And perhaps most important, “What can I do to make this better?” Perhaps for the first time in our life we see how serious it is for us to think of others. Maybe we see how wasteful and selfish has been our use of time and the earth’s limited resources.
A new wind starts to blow at this stage of life. There is a felt need “to give back.”
Our parents and grandparents were children of the great depression and two world wars. They devoted themselves to making life easier for their children than it was for them. “To have what we couldn’t”. They succeeded.
Times have changed since then. These days many parents/ grandparents are unable to help lift their children to greater economic security. The new wind that blows isn’t about economic prosperity. It’s about Hope. We know something about life that the young ones don’t . . . (as St. Catherine of Siena said) . . . “all will be well.”
How can we say such a thing? “All will be well.” It’s a fair question. In a world so troubled on so many fronts, how can one have hope for the future?
What comes next will only make sense if you believe in God (or something good much bigger than yourself).
It’s this . . . “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” Jn. 3:16. God’s Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails . . .” 1Cor. 13ff And . . . “All things work together for the good for those who love God.” Rm. 8:28. And, “Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.”
What do these words of sacred scripture tell us but that God started this world out of love, we messed it up, Christ came to “bear all things” and conquer sin and death. And now ALL THINGS will, eventually, work toward the to- tal victory of God’s plan of love.
Do you believe that? If you do, then you believe that for all the seemingly impossible problems of war, poverty, racism, violence against women, Zika, terrorism, etc. etc. . . . that God would never allow the ultimate destruction of the human experiment.
Now this hope is what we need to give to our children. Next week: “How to Give Hope”.
All will be well.