“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have liv’d my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of…”
— "The Passing of Arthur" from "Idylls of the King" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
No one with any sense of reality can deny the inevitability of change. Examining life at every moment and at every level, from the personal to the cosmic, we cannot avoid facing the perpetual dynamic that we call “living.” Nothing and no one exists in a changeless world. Those who deny evolution because a biblical story said that God made it all perfect in six days and nothing since has changed — or evolved — understand neither the profundity of the biblical message nor the ever-changing dynamic we call God.
The question is not whether change will happen but how we will handle the transition between what has been our reality and what is currently taking place, as well as what may come.
Instead of taking a broader, more philosophical perspective, stay with me as I describe life-altering transitions I am currently facing — issues many of our readers will probably acknowledge as also taking place in their lives.
It is increasingly apparent that as I approach my 88th birthday, time has forced on me transitions I have little ability to control. Bodily systems continue to break down. Golf departed a year ago, and the family has decided that it is time I gave up driving. There is a cane inside and a walker outside. An infection placed me in the hospital a month ago, and keeping everyone’s name in mind is increasingly elusive. When I asked my physician what has caused all these changes, he replied “birthdays.” Last month my beloved Wendy and I moved from our lovely house to an equally lovely apartment with far less we needed to do to keep the house and Wendy’s marvelous grounds in tip-top shape.
With age all is not lost. Almost universally younger people — and others not so young — will go out of their way to see that I am offered their seat or an arm to get me down a curb or across the street. Having spent much of my life taking care of others, I am increasingly being taken care of. I love it! Now when I repeat a story, no one seeks to remind me that they have heard it before — maybe 10 times. I am far less driven or obsessed, and if it takes longer to button my shirt, who cares.
Events in the wider world that have long concerned me continue to do so. There are changes in my beloved intentional retirement community that leave us no longer currently committed to finding ways to welcome many who have given their lives in the service of persons and causes which are unable to provide the hundreds of thousands of dollars required for entrance, or the financial capacity to outlive their personal resources. Nevertheless, this is the nation’s best community for both the religious and the non-religious whose passion still commits them to an active life centered upon peace and justice.
And then there are changes in the wider world I find terribly disturbing, and that leave us without the power to alter them. Many of these columns have been about what is happening politically in the United States. No one who knows me or who reads what I write will have any doubt that I mourn what is happening in this nation that is being systematically dismantled by an ego-centered disastrous fraud of a president who has disgraced us and has taken the nation down a very dark passage littered with what has really made America great.
What keeps me going? It is the rising voices of women and young people who will increasingly define where America is headed. So let change come. I expect to sit back — mostly — and watch these two groups manage the transition, and guide us into a greater future.
"A society that lacks people of vision is a society certain of its end. Perhaps the crisis in our country, our church, our world today is a result of a lack of dreamers … to open our minds … to strengthen our hearts … and to employ new energies to change our society." — Leonardo Boff, liberation theologian