Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Expect (07/11/13)
TITLE: Twilight Years
By Leola Ogle
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We say we should get together more often, and we intend to, want to, but we won’t. So we relish this afternoon together, the Sunday lunch making us feel tired and sleepy. We joke about how in our youth, we’d poke light-hearted fun at the elderly who dozed in church. Now we have become them.
It makes us sad to think of the possibility the younger generation views us with mirth. We have built churches while raising our families, gone without to further the gospel, sacrificed to see God’s work advanced – in days without state-of-the art technology. We taught from flannel boards, sang from hymnals, our sermon material came not from the internet but was birthed in our spirit, and we prayed until the glory fell.
The younger generation doesn’t recognize us. Only a few remember us. We flounder in our uselessness. Some part of our identity has been stripped away by the ravages of age, by the fact we’re no longer needed, no longer viewed as an asset to ministry. We can’t do what we used to do. In our eyes, we have aged gracefully. We still dress in our Sunday best, our hair is coifed, our nails polished, and we accessorize to perfection.
We discuss what our expectations were when we were young and full of dreams. We admit we never expected the winter of our life to be like this. We still have hopes and dreams, but most of the time, our bodies refuse to cooperate.
Life has been good. Mostly good! Not always good. But we choose to reminisce about the pleasant things, of family and friends who have gone before us, waiting now on that heavenly shore. We expect a grand reunion in heaven, although we laughingly say we’re not anxious to leave yet. Sometimes in the exhaustion of our frailty, we dream of home, want it, are anxious for it, but we’re happy to awaken another day.
I am the youngest in the group. I close my eyes and wonder what I’ll be like ten years from now, fifteen years from now. I feel sadness like an ache in my bones, or perhaps the ache is just age. Whatever the case, my eyes flutter open as someone cackles, “She fell asleep.” I laugh, not bothering to correct them. It is acceptable to doze off in the middle of conversation, so why tell them otherwise.
In our memories, we are still young, full of life and vigor, reaching for the stars, expecting wonderful things from the fruit of our labors. It was all about serving God and people, especially during times when an adequate salary wasn’t always promised, or if promised, it wasn’t always there. We did it for love of people, for love of God. We expected to be loved and appreciated, but it wasn’t always so. Sometimes people threw it back in our face, sometimes with vengeance and malice. Often it came from those we’d helped the most. We tucked away our hurts and disappointments behind our Sunday smiles.
I wander into the other room. The men are sharing stories of the churches they built, literally and physically built – not with hired contractors – with the sweat of their brow, and the ache of their back, with volunteers from the church and community. And as they talk, the glint in their eyes is that of the young men they once were – strong, vibrant, passionate for God and people and life.
I know they would do it all again, as would we, the wives standing behind our men. Times have changed, knowledge and technology have advanced. We are reduced to moaning about our aches and pains, to reminisce of years of yore.
It was grand, it was glorious, to be young with our journey stretching before us – a path full of noble dreams, desires, and expectations. Now, in the twilight of our years, we remember, our sighs resonating like the chords of a harp’s strings. We are content.
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