Over the Christmas break we may be lucky enough to visit family that we do not often see, or get Christmas cards and letters from loved ones that are living in other places. This brings life updates, heartwarming stories of adventure, but also a vast array of emotions that come with hearing news of all kinds. I felt a mix of those emotions over the holidays and heard stories on extreme ends of spectrums. I heard a story about a relative of mine working for a client with a 7000 square foot garage that housed a multitude of sports cars worth many million dollars. On the other end of that spectrum, I know many of our churches helped families in need over Christmas, as well as those in their communities and cities.
While I was at my parents house, gathering for Christmas, they received a family letter from aunts and uncles in Saskatchewan. It was beautifully written in the form of a poem, but this particular poem was more like a lament from the authors. They were remembering their year, which was to be their last on the homestead farm, after 65 long years of being rooted in that place. They described it as a year of one last times. One last time with the garden, one last time with their animals, one last time sitting watching the fields and hearing the train go by. It was moving to hear and read, with most of us in tears by the end.
It really made me wonder about the future of my parents, and of many others in our churches, who are either in or approaching their later years of life. Time is such a challenging continuum for us to grasp and I often tell God I wished we could understand it better. Even in a world like we have today, with so much opportunity and movement, I feel there is so much value and beauty to being rooted in a place for 65 plus years.
The other thing I love to do over the break is to sit down and relax to a good nature documentary. I am a huge fan of David Attenborough and to those who know that name, I could probably stop right here. For those that don't know him, check out any BBC nature show with him and you will be amazed at the showcase of God's wonderful creation.
Anyways, back to the story. I watched a few episodes of Blue Planet II and the story of shrimp living in a Venus' Flower Basket sponge made me think of this life long rootedness. These deep sea interactions of shrimp eggs drifting into the structure of the sponge, protected and fed by the way it is formed and then living their whole life inside the sponge was amazing. In one way they are protected, but in another way they are trapped because they outgrow the openings of the sponge and are unable to leave it.
The only way they eventually do leave, is in their own offspring, as they spawn and send their eggs off into the sea to find their own place to root and live. It happens on a much smaller time scale for the shrimp than it does for us humans, but it also makes me wonder and ask God how that compares to our life spans in the scale of His time of eternity. One thing is for certain, as we are part of our families lives and living in community with people of all ages, we must take the time to care and love for people that are like these unique shrimp. Living together, building a legacy and who have been keystones to the churches we share as worshipping communities.
Our first NADC meeting in the new year will have teaching and discussion time around the theme of senior and elder care, so take this opportunity to think and pray about this theme over the next little while and feel free to share a story or thought with me in the lead up to it if you are moved to do so. The feelings and only response I have been able to muster so far, after reading that lament poem from our family, has been to sing and meditate on the familiar song "Turn your eyes upon Jesus." It is one I will sit with as I move into the new year. Blessings to you all, for who you are and for all you do, through Christ who empowers you!