A few weeks ago, I sat in my father’s garage with him and my brother-in-law. In lieu of a front porch, we sat on the concrete as the afternoon sun slowly descended, and we did what men do, which is mostly complain.
(PS When did I become a middle-aged man?)
My father suffered a massive stroke in 2004, and maybe a couple more since then, and at this point he’s rather limited physically. He stopped driving a year or two ago. My brother-in-law’s father was a racecar driver, and is also facing increased limitations, and may have to stop driving too.
We were talking about getting older, and not being able to do the things we used to do.
(Again, men complain quite well.)
Lift things, move, stay up late, etc., etc. Things change and get more difficult.
My dad made the remark, “Yeah but wait until you can’t drive anymore,” and we all nodded our heads and made a couple remarks about how awful that would be, and how it would really wreck us (just like it wrecked my dad, and just like it’s wrecking Tony’s dad).
Driving—at least for my generation and older—does seem to be linked to something essential and basic about life. The ability to move when one wants to. To leave, to have self-determination. To go.
When that gets taken from you, yeah, I guess that would be a real kick in the crotch (as Sting would put it).
But then I had a thought…
Losing like this is really hard. Releasing our grasp on our abilities is almost a crime, some kind of cruel joke that life plays on us.
(What will happen when I cannot play music anymore?)
It feels a crime and a travesty… Unless it’s all grace in the first place.
If I never deserved it in the first place, what right do I have to rail and rage and complain when it goes away?
And isn’t this the essence of the Christian life? That actually everything is grace? That life is a gift? That I’m somehow sustained by the love of God that is in Christ? (In his letter to the Colossian church, St. Paul said that Christ holds everything together.)
If it really is all grace—and my spirit and beliefs compel me to agree with this—than the invitation is to learn to surrender everything as is necessary. As life comes to me, at me, through me, and then fades away in the distance, most likely I have been (and will continued to be) called to lay down…
- the place/city I called “home”
- my ability to play music all day and night
- the time and space to create
- my platform
- my vocation
Eventually, this list will include things like guitar, friends, family… even driving. Even walking.
But if it was all a gift in the first place, then I never had a right to grasp it. It was never mine. Nothing.
That’s pretty freeing. But pretty terrifying.