lyef & thymes

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Layers of time have buried the lost choices.

In the famous days of the enlightenment, the time when human thought was reaching new heights, when ideas where being shaken, and the alignment of values were shifting, it was the twenty somethings who did the shaking, and the realigning. The poets, artists, mathematicians, philosophers, and educated people in general at that time lost their taste for radical greatness as/if they lived into their thirties.

I bring this up because of a fellow I spoke to yesterday who had just decided to retire. He had worked the same job for more than half of his 65 years, and he was terrified of the immensity of the change. I asked him if he could remember having the same level of trepidation in his decision to take that job, or to choose the career path in general. He could not remember any.
I commented to him that perhaps the fear was a function of the finality of it, and how we lose our taste for making final decisions as we live longer and longer. He got a little choked up as he thought about it and eventually commented that he was a fearless young man, but had since become mostly afraid of the future.

I think that experience does not always lead us in the right directions. Often our experiences involve loss, and suffering, which leads us to fear. I think that experience does not always lead us to a place of faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the presence of things unseen.

Lately I have been making decisions based on the substance of things that already exist, not the presence of things unseen. I have resolved to change this attitude and live instead in a position of Faith. That means that I can't be too afraid to make a decision, or walk a certain direction just because I don't know what's down that road. I think of the famous Robert Frost poem and the trouble we have choosing which road to take. We are so imaginative that we can picture the life we will live if we walk down either of the roads that diverge in the yellow wood. We can imagine it so fully and effectively that we "are dead with deciding, afraid to choose. For [we are] mourning the loss of the choices [we'd] lose".

But we forget that the choice we make will be beautiful, and important, and good. I am in the first phase of the "post-significant choice" stage in my life. Carolyn and I have decided to take the road less traveled, and move to another city to begin a new church planting church plant. It's terribly exciting. We look forward with great anticipation the amazing things that we will learn, see, do, try to do, succeed in doing, fail at doing, and all the bumps and scrapes that will come along the way.

Similarly, we are mourning the loss of our life here. Many of our friends have expressed their sadness that we will be moving away, and we share that sentiment. There has been a degree of shunning within our community, some awkward re-drawing of boundaries with some loved ones, and altogether discomfort in handling the news, but we know that even the painful reactions are done out of deep love for us. I know that as time moves forward, the sense of loss will just become fertilizer in which the future will grow. Layers of time have buried the lost choices of the past, and as I look back I see a beautiful life. I know that will become increasingly true as I keep moving forward, choosing one road over another, walking through the yellow wood.