Ecclesiastes 12:1,7 – Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit unto God who gave it.
My dad was what I called a "quiet Christian". Although he had been raised in the church, years and circumstances drew him away from the structure but never from the faith. He was the kind of person who showed his belief by example more than by word. Today is the first anniversary of his death.
As well as having worked early on in a sawmill, and still later, doing carpentry and woodwork, he had smoked most of his life. And so, when the diagnosis of emphysema was made, it didn't come as a complete surprise. The last six years of his life were increasingly debilitating, the last year being the cruellest. It is truly a journey of faith to have a terminal illness and not complain, to accept it as your journey, that you will be called when your place has been prepared by God. It is also an honour to share that journey, that very soul, with someone, especially someone you love.
When the spasms wracked his body, all one could do was hold his hand to let him know he was safe and cared for, something he had often offered me as a child. When the spasms were over, sometimes we would visualize back to a time when he flew a little airplane, and relive the sense of complete control and freedom it had offered him. Sometimes, in the last several months of his life, he would slip into such a deep sleep he couldn't be awakened, and when he did, it was with such joy, for he had been in a wonderful place, where he was whole, running, laughing, living. It was after the first of many such times that I suggested his soul was perhaps taking a jaunt to the "other side" to "check it out." It was also after one of those times that he quoted Ecclesiastes 12:1, today's text, then asked me to get his bible and prompt him on the other 13 verses, filling in most of them on his own.
You see, he did always remember his Creator, and especially when his years drew nigh and he had no pleasure in them, as have so many, many people to whom suffering and pain and terminal illness have been their constant companions.
It is an honour to share that journey. The gift is to learn from it.
Prayer: Dear Lord, may we remember you now, in the days of our youth, or while we still have pleasure in them, and especially Lord, in our youth's days, may we help them now, to remember you. Amen.