An Aside in August

thumbnail28Only a little more confidence in God.  A little more patience.  And the end will come, and past weary years will seem as nothing.  Then will arrive the moment of reunion, and all will be amply compensated and repaid, principal and interest.  –St. Theophane Venard, printed in Safely Through the Storm, ed. Debra Herbeck

….”and the end will come”:  “…as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Mt. 24:27)  Last night, beginning at about 10PM, we who were watching and aware were reminded of this prophetic word of Jesus, this sudden “coming of the Son of Man,” when lightning–for the first time that I can recall–lit up the sky south of us here in Auburn, brilliantly flashing in huge stretches from east to west, nearly 180 degrees.  Some of those split-second explosions of light were directly behind the Cascade foothills and Mt. Rainier, so that we could see those structures in quick silhouettes.  A riveting sight.

By 11PM, the lightning storm had moved close, over our own valley, and although I was sinking into sleep from fatigue and the day’s heat, I kept awakening, lifting and sinking again with the thunder’s rhythms.

It is August 10, and today my father would have turned ninety-eight.  But he died about four months before reaching age sixty-seven.  So I have now outlived him by more than a year of life here on earth, and consider it likely that I’ll reach Psalm 90’s “threescore and ten,” the age my husband is now; and perhaps “by reason of strength, fourscore,” or more.  That is, if the Son of Man does not first suddenly return like lightning for the world’s inhabitants, or simply for me, at a moment I do not expect, the way He took my father.

“…and past weary years will seem as nothing”:  yes, past years do seem weary to me now.  I certainly would not want to relive them, unless I had the singular opportunity of reliving them with the maturity and greater strength of soul which I have now, by God’s grace faithfully, relentlessly working in me over the years.  But I am living the plain story of humanity, becoming quite weary in late middle age, which soon will be simply old age.

However, again by God’s grace, with the births of our grandchildren, I am indeed able to relive, in a way, my own children’s early childhoods. And it is with the  joy and happy freedom of grandparenthood, deeply cherishing every moment of their lives with a peace of mind and lightness of heart full of hope for them eternally, without the immediate and perpetual responsibility (and fitting anxiety for their moment-by-moment safety) which is proper to parenthood.

No wonder the Lord gave His people this blessing in their own words:  “May you see your children’s children.”  This alone momentarily lifts us out of weariness and keeps us secure in hope when the lightning is flashing from east to west, and the thunder bellows.  Holy Family, pray for us.  -JC