March 2011

posted 4 Mar 2011, 05:42 by Richard Jones   [ updated 30 Mar 2011, 10:23 ]

The Vicar Writes ... 

IT COMES TO US ALL.  That moment when we look in the mirror and see ourselves as if for the first time.  We wonder where all those creases came from and if we’re a woman, we probably rush for the Oil of Olay.

  And then, gradually, reason takes over, and we tell ourselves that we haven’t really been confronted with our faded youth, but rather with the signs of a new, mature identity.  Wisdom and experience have drawn all kinds of interesting designs on our faces.  Love and hate, joy and bitterness, sweetness and sourness; it’s written there for all to see, the choices we made, the inner attitudes that motivated us, the measure of self that we have given to others.  The French writer Jean-Paul Sartre said, ‘By the time he is sixtyfive, a man has the face that he deserves’.  (And he probably meant women too, for that matter).

  There will probably be regrets too.  A sense of loss and the onset of decay, but as the writer Christine Gardiner puts it so well, ‘Dying for the Christian is only the passageway to resurrection life.  In winter the tree may look barren, wizened, gnarled and unfruitful, but that is only the beginning, not the end of the story’.

  It’s a strange feeling being sixtyfive.  I don’t feel sixtyfive, but then, what does sixtyfive feel like?  I really enjoyed the dinner.  I took the jokes ‘in good part’  -  or so they tell me.  I smiled a lot anyway.   -   But what next?

 I want life to go on just the same as ever, ‘the eternal teenager’, and yet I know that time moves on.  I see my friends growing older, and much quicker than me!  Some seem so staid, so set in their ways, so .  .  .   old?  Then I look in the mirror and see .  .  .   what?  Perhaps I would rather not see.

  But there are advantages in getting older.  The years have taught me many lessons.  I have kept some old friends, and made many new ones.  Someone recently said to me, “You’re nobbut a lad yet, wait ‘til you’ve got another twenty years under your belt”.  So, maybe there is life after sixtyfive.

  But what about God?  What does he think of me at sixtyfive?

  “Do not be afraid”, he says, “for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine”.

  His promise to me is as true today as it was yesterday, and will be for all my tomorrows.  He is my Father and I am his child  -  forever.  Whatever changes the years bring, he will not change.  To him I am Paul.  Not Paul, son, husband, father, priest.  Just Paul.  I have nothing to fear from age.  I am safe and secure, and always will be.

  May God’s blessing be with you all