“Old friend, where you heading for now”
Today I was in church when an overwhelming sadness hit me. On the third Sunday we have a shared liturgy, meaning many people participate in a service that uses a service booklet. They are guided by highlighted sections indicating which parts they are to read. This service entails the seats being arranged not in the usual way, facing the front, but in two sections facing each other. This helps us all to feel part of a worshipping community who are on a journey together. What made me sad was that many people I was facing were over 70 yrs of age. They varied in gender and looks, some faces etched with lines and sun spots and some with the lingering beauty of their younger years. They represent a family to me, a family which has travelled life’s ups and downs together, sharing the joys and sorrows, grief and struggles of being human. Their faces reflect all the experiences they have had in that time, some shared and some private, and the wisdom they have stored up along the way. Many shuffle to their seats, fall asleep during the sermon or just look weary. Others are now having trouble remembering what their job for the day actually is. Yet there are many others who are still vibrant and full of energy, supporting those less able and engaging as best they can in the wider world. All have been faithful in their own ways to the divine presence expressed within them and in the universe in which we live and breathe. All have sensed the call to be followers of Jesus, trying to be better people and producing a better society and world.
Yet as I look at them with love, I know that time does not wait for anyone, and that in 5 or 10 years many of those faces may not be with me or I with them. How I my heart aches with that knowledge. Already we have lost some of our community, and the prospect that there are many who are now very ill makes me shudder. Yet I know that is the way of the world. This is how it should be, this is how life is supposed to be. As I was pondering this future loss, many of the children brought in the communion elements. These bright, happy and excited children reflect the next generation who follow us and the future that they bring.
God remains in the world, in every living thing, old and young, black and white, male and female. God is the hope and light within everything that lives and breathes. God never says we are too old or too tired. In the very essence of who we are, even when our health and memory starts to fade, God is always present, as though we are within a vast ocean and the ocean is in us.
As I was heading home from church I heard a song on my son’s CD, called “Old Friend “ by Angus and Julia Stone.. This is a brilliant song performed at their Grandfather’s funeral. It reflects how I feel about my travelling companions. I don’t know where you are heading for now, but I am damn sure I am going to enjoy your company, your love, your guidance and your wisdom before you head off. And when you do go I will have an ache in my heart far more powerful than memory alone.
Here is the song and the words….
You seen the days when the roads were death, And the fires burned right to the brim, And the bike you rode to school now it rests, And your story begins.
You read your fair share of books, You tied your lace a thousand times, And you saw the good in the worst of the crooks, And your story begins, and your story begins.
The sun it burns so I jump right in, I felt the cold sea kiss my skin, I turned around and you were gone, And Im thinkin of you, thinkin of you.
Old friend where you headed for now, Old friend where you headed for now.
Window frames of old pictures of you, And the tree outside appears on end, And you seen the good in the seam of the crop, And your story begins, and your story begins.
The sun it burns so I jump right in, I felt the cold sea kiss my skin, I turned around and you were gone, And Im thinkin of you, cant stop thinkin of you.
Old friend where you headed for now, Old friend where you headed for now, Old friend where you headed for now, Old friend where you headed for now.