Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Ending Well (by Judy)
I thought I knew what to write about today. Jack and I joined Carolyn and her husband at a Sunday buffet at a restaurant on the lake, before attending the theater together. I knew that the display of food would be amazing, and it was. So much fresh seafood, egg dishes, a carvery station, salads, chafing containers, and above all, the desserts, anchored on one end by a chocolate fountain and on the other, hot bread pudding with warm rum custard. I sipped my misosa, listened to the pianist, smiled at the dear ones surrounding me, and basked in the warmth.
I got up from the table to take pictures for the blog, and was drawn to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Across the frozen expanse of Lake Erie was the skyline of Cleveland. Windswept streets, rust belt economy, foreclosed houses, even a basketball team hurtling toward the ignominious record of most straight losses. I know my role at the buffet table, but what is my role in the world?
I have been reveling in the delights of being a grandmother, with five beautiful grandchildren. They are funny, endearing, loving, bright and make my heart sing. Three are traveling in New Zealand for Chinese New Year. Two are eagerly anticipating a spring break trip to Morocco. I am excited for them and can’t wait to hear their reports of every adventure. Then today my daughter sent a blog about a sweet little boy battling life-threatening cancer. He is the son of her childhood friend, - a sweet little boy himself, now in a daddy’s body with an anguished spirit. I know my role as a grandmother, but what is my role when hearts are breaking?
A retired friend is wintering in Florida with her husband. She writes of blue skies, balmy weather, long bike rides along the water and cool beers on the beach. Jack and I dream of similar interludes – not in Florida, but somewhere away from forecasts of blizzards, ice storms and wind chill factors. I speak in a liberal democratic way of being willing to share with those less fortunate, of championing government safety nets, and sacrificing now for a stronger future. But today, my snowbird friend’s blog spoke of a shooting several blocks from her condo, and her reflections about what is going wrong. I know my role as a wife accompanying my hard-working husband on adventures, but what is my role the other 11 months of the year as a Christian woman who is almost retired?
Instead of a blog about a happy Sunday, I am caught up in the biggest conundrum of my life – how to end well. Paul wrote to his young protégé Timothy, saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He challenged his followers to, “Run with endurance the race that God has set before you.” The Bible is filled with people of God who lived good lives, until the end, when they faltered. How I long to hear, “Well done” at the end of my race. But how do I find the patience, the endurance and the commitment? My only answer this afternoon is to remember where Paul looked, that he fixed his eyes on Jesus and lived as Jesus lived.