Saturday, September 27, 2014

Youth is Fleeting

Rejoice, O youth, while you are young and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.  Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes; Yet understand regarding all this that God will bring you to judgment.  Banish misery from your heart and remove pain from your body, for youth and black hair are fleeting.  Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you.  The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”   Luke 9:43B-44

Andy Dufresne: [in letter to Red] Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. (From The Shawshank Redemption)

Wedding vows include the phrase, “In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.”  When we have the good times, when we are healthy, when we are young and have not a care in the world (comparatively speaking), it is easy to be amazed at life and figure that things will never change.  Today, we are reminded that Jesus kept warning his disciples that the end was coming like the proverbial man in the cartoon with the sandwich board signs. 
Yesterday, I learned that a former colleague died in the memory care unit of an assisted living facility.  Bob was not even 70 (the new 50?).  In his youth, he earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University.  He was a researcher, public opinion pollster and former political science professor.  The gift of his intellect and ability to interpret data helped many organizations and clients better understand what was happening in the world around them.  Bob was always careful to tell us that we can “infer” certain trends from data but the data did not predict the future.  Those patterns, though, helped us to know what might happen in certain circumstances. 
In today’s presentation to the disciples, Jesus had no Powerpoint slides.  He did not resort to a poll.  He just told the disciples what the future holds for him.  You would think the disciples were travelling up a river in Egypt with the denial that expressed.
What we have will be taken away.

Right up there near the top of my ten most favorite movies of all time is The Shawshank Redemption – and it was on free television again last night.  In the film, the IMDB summary says that two “innocent,” imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.  “Andy Dufresne is a young and successful banker whose life changes drastically when he is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover. Set in the 1940's, the film shows how Andy, with the help of his friend Red, the prison entrepreneur, turns out to be a most unconventional prisoner.”
[To be polite, I should say Spoiler Alert if you have not seen this movie yet.  However, if you have not seem The Shawshank Redemption, there is a Monopoly Game card made just for you.  Maybe there you will have time to watch it.]
Red and Andy both had their youth taken away.  Maybe we will not be thrown into prison for a life sentence after being convicted of a crime we did not commit.  But we do not know what will imprison us in the future and take away what we have been given. 
The walls of every prison are not made of bars, bricks, locks and razor wire.  Maybe we will be imprisoned in a healthy body while losing our intellectual capacity. Maybe we will be imprisoned in a healthy mind while losing physical control of our body.  Maybe we will be imprisoned by doubt, or greed, or envy or bitterness.
The walls of the Shawshank prison could not imprison Andy Dufresne.  He always had his music.  He always had his library.  He always had his hope.  Even two months “in the hole” for calling the warden obtuse could not take his hope away.  
Hope is the bridge between faith and charity. Jesus’ cross is the symbol of hope between life and death and new life.  What gives you hope today?  How can you be a symbol of hope to someone who is trapped in their own personal prison – whether the walls are physical or emotional?  

No comments: