Thursday, August 9, 2007
What can you say? The ‘preacher’ is getting older
Yes, let us admit it, the “Preacher” is getting old! The signs are all there. Looking at some photos made at the wedding of Cathryn Miller and Bradley Douglas in our church last weekend, I noticed gray hair on my clerical head that is not there in my collection of photos from weddings I performed in my earlier years! (We will not comment on the increasing expansiveness of my middle, since my ministerial robe covers “a multitude of sins.”)
One picture is worth a thousand words, and the camera does not lie. I did not like the truth the camera told, especially since everyone says it is an excellent photo.
I do not despair over old age, nor am I afraid to face it. It is just that such things take some getting used to. I was set to thinking in this vein as the young couple stood before me at the wedding rehearsal. After all, I had known the bride since she was a child. The day is soon to come when I will perform a wedding for a child I have baptized, or baptize a child of a child I baptized. Of course, this happens to any minister who hangs on long enough, but the approach of this reality can be sobering.
It reminded me of an encounter my mother had with a man she’d taught in school many years before. The gentleman greeted her in a doctor’s office waiting room and said, “Miz Winter, do you know who I am?” Mama hated playing “do you know who I am?” — for the children one teaches in school do grow up and look different, especially with the passage of years. So many years had passed that this particular man was now toothless!
He then added insult to injury when he exclaimed, “Miz Winter, you learned me in 8th grade.” Mama told us she wanted to say, “Well, you must not have learned very much!”
As it was, the young couple I married last week could double their ages and still would not be as old as I am. When I thought of this at bedtime last Friday night after their rehearsal dinner, it discombobulated me so much that I had to get out of bed and watch TV for awhile.
Being young had its interesting assignments. One was to minister to a previous generation of Mississippi youth as campus minister for Presbyterians at Ole Miss. But when they all began saying “yes sir” and “no sir,” and I no longer knew their songs, I realized the time had come to move on. So they gave me a different “moonlight” job — “clerk of the presbytery,” and set me to writing in big journal books, as it were, with an old-fashioned quill-pen. A perfect job for an aging minister who can at least see the hill coming that he’s about to be “over.”
It suited me perfectly. This week they have me doing research at our denominational office in old records from the 1840s. I feel completely “at home” with the characters and personages described therein. (Many of those people are ancestors of some of you now reading these words.)
Well, what can I say? I don’t see as well any more, and I certainly can’t hear. But life is good, and although it hasn’t kicked in for me quite yet, I can hope that with the passing of years there may be some increase of wisdom.
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