The downside of writing a daily online posting and a biweekly magazine column is that you get to know all my sins. This is partly because I’m not the sportswriter and partly because it is impossible to write so many words without getting around to it.
Today’s shameful confession is that I have been a terrible aunt. My five nieces and nephews have grown up with nary a birthday or Christmas card from me. I didn’t mean for it to happen. I always dutifully transcribed their birth dates from my old calendar to my new one in January, and fully intended to do better next year. But I never did.
Now comes the time of life for the predictable lament and regret and feeling like Esau who for all his wailing was not able to reverse the blessings of Jacob. My nieces and nephews don’t know me and doubtless don’t care.
But I want you to know is that today, this very day, I wrote a letter to Luke who lives in England and whom I have not seen in years. It is not his birthday or anywhere near Christmas. He may read the return address and say, “Who’s that?” or know who it is and file it in the trash. That’s totally out of my hands.
The greatest temptation of all in the latter part of life is hopelessness, often dressed up as mature resignation: “Come now, we must face the fact that we have blown it. Never mind it, God will understand.” Sounds like wisdom, but it’s what brother James called “demonic” thinking.
It rather stinks, I think, that the hardest temptation of all the temptations of life is for people who have pretty much failed all the other temptations, and so have little moral stamina. That is to say, you wouldn’t be hagridden with all this remorse to fight your way out of if you had obeyed the promptings of God all along life’s highway.
Nevertheless, that is the situation some of us find ourselves in. Though I have failed royally for years, I will not hand the devil one more victory. I will finish well. Not boasting, just availing myself of the grace that is there for trusting the God who bends impossibilities and is in the business of repairing ruined houses.
So write a letter, make a phone call. Rage against the dying of the light.