It's been interesting to observe the outpourings of sentiment over the past few days, in response to the death of two pop-culture icons - Patrick Swayze and then Mary Travers. One of the functions of increasing chronological age seems to be that we recognize more and more of the names in the obituary section of the newspaper.
It certainly puts the passage of time in perspective, to realize that people who once stood center stage - as the epitome of what it means to be young and changing the world - are now passing into the footnotes of history.
One friend, thinking about the classic song, "Where have all the flowers gone" posted the following comment "... back then when they and I were young... too touching... because we really did have hopes that there would be a world like that... someday... still blowing in the wind."
I've been hearing a subtext of loss beyond that of "I'll miss so-and-so; I'm detecting a wistfulness and a yearning that seems to be saying that maybe all the hopes and the dreams of youth have been in some way disappointed.
I can understand where they're coming from. There's a generation - mostly 5-25 years older than me (Mary Travers was 73) who must be frustrated that their visions of a world at peace have never materialized. Peace - they protested - would come because the young people (them) would not tolerate war.
So what can we do? How can we resist disappointment and disillusionment?
Jesus put it this way: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14)
I, as we discussed yesterday, am not old in any meaningful sense of the word. The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind, the answer is right in front of us. Follow Jesus; give your life away; do peace; love justice.
The prophet Micah is just as encouraging: "The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: "See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God."
Peace - and I mean that - DEREK