All of my life I’ve heard that old people look back and young people look forward, and now that I’m in the first category I can tell you that yes, I have a tendency to look back. More of my life is behind me than is before me. That makes some things easier and some things harder. For example, when I look at the life I’ve lived and think of all the difficult and scary parts and how I got through each one, it is so easy for me to see the hand of God in my life and that makes it easier for me believe He is in charge of my life right now. But it is harder for me to want to begin what I think will be long-term projects because I don’t want to leave things for others to feel they have to finish.
When I hear my niece speaking to me it often sounds like the voice before me is an echo from behind because she sounds so much like her mother, my sister. And standing in a church I hear the voices of the old and the young mingling and think how very much both are necessary for the vitality of the body of believers. Much as the Bible contains the voices of yesterday in the Old Testament and the voices of today and tomorrow in the New Testament. Both are so necessary for complete understanding of what happened and why as well as to caution us to prepare for what is to come.
Our family reunion is only three months away and I will do my best to go because I love hearing the voices mingling telling those old stories of ones who have gone before who helped fashion me into who I am today, and the children’s voices piping their questions about family and giving me a sense that yes, our family will endure and I have had a small part in the history of something larger.
When I read the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence they aren’t just words on paper, they are voices from the past doing their best to make sure that the hard-won freedoms they fought for stay alive for the voices of tomorrow to enjoy. To the men who wrote those documents I was a voice of tomorrow, and I’m so glad they cared enough to nail down what my inalienable rights are, do their best to secure them for me, and place safeguards that have kept our nation going for over 250 years. Then I have to ask if I’ve done the same for the voices of the future. Have I done, and am I doing, all I possibly can to ensure the continuation of our Republic?
It seems to me we need both kinds of voices. That when we blend the voices of yesterday with the voices of tomorrow we get the strongest, best, clearest, and truest voice for today. Yes, we need to look forward and plan where we are going and how to get there, but we need to listen to the voices of yesterday telling us not to follow certain ways but to learn from the mistakes that have already been made . But do young voices ever heed the warnings of old voices? It seems to me that we paid more attention to old voices when I was a young voice. Or is that just a warped perception from looking back through time and maybe wishing I had paid attention.
My grandmother knew the most amazing stories of everyday life and I loved to hear them. When she told me of how things and people were when she was a young girl I sat wide-eyed and very still listening and wishing I could have been a girl with my grandmother because it sounded like she had so much fun with taffy pulls, barn dances, and walking two miles home from church with a boy. Somehow making fudge at a girl get-together, going to a “sock hop” and walking a block to church just didn’t add up. I was sure the things she did were more fun.
Grandmother told of lessons learned from her mother who was a Georgia belle whose father got her and her sisters out of Georgia ahead of Sherman’s march through that state. And the things Grandmother told would be good things to learn today. Her momma told her that when a gentleman stood and offered his chair, you must stand and talk to him for a minute because if you sat while the chair was still warm from his body he would know you were no lady. There is only one thing wrong with applying that lesson today, men seldom offer their seat to a lady. Wait, do women still desire to be ladies?
It seems to me to be a mixed up world with what used to be right is now wrong and what was wrong is now right. Perhaps it is time for the future voices to begin listening to the past voices.
April 12, 2015