This journey of faith, a somewhat blind but persistent trust of "the hope that is within us" (I Peter 3:15) has been both glorious and treacherous . We all live under a similar umbrella of sorts.
How our deepest hope was received is a big deal when it comes to trusting it.
For some, pure religious heritage, in my case Pentecostal, my wife's, Missouri Synod Lutheran. Trust me, we come from almost opposite ends of the theological stick!
Neither of us now depend soley upon what we were told or taught as children, as both of us came into our present faith in early adulthood, maturing with each life hurdle. Both of us have stories of moments where spiritual breakthroughs occurred that were actually hindered my the theology passed down to us.
So, with life's funnel rapidly narrowing, our ultimate end now clearly in sight, both of us in our last quarter red zone, the hope of a life beyond this one is clearly driving our "now." The irony for us both, as this "valley of the shadow of death" approaches, is that it comes with a much deeper yearning for further revelation and clarity. As for myself, having experienced several near death moments and even diagnostic evidence of the consequence of aging, I have no fears!
In fact, were it not for my grandkids, I'd be homesick for the next. Sounds weird I know. My wife's spiritual life is also quite convincing, few worries there should I transition first, beyond her occasional cellphone dilemma (comic relief).
I don't hear that from everyone, so my biggest desire is leaving a sure enough deposit of love to carry forward the stories of my journey in the lives of those who will come behind me.
Of course as grandparents, capturing stories convincing enough to anchor hope for my grands, knowing the challenges that may lie ahead. Their world will be, in fact already is, quite different.
While my life as a child was spent often in the woods, and by that I mean repeated times with Dad, uncles and cousins walking behind hounds in search of game, their's is sitting on a couch or carpeted floor playing games, more and more on an iPad! Not trying to be critical, but rather for contrast.
Perhaps the same gap in terms of church experience, be that good or bad. My memories are chocked full of "services" sitting beside a grandma who was anchored in a godlike love, always about her large family's well being.
My mom's life was also about worship and prayer, with scripture always her ultimate read, her source for life decisions. She still struggled with religion though shouting, literally dancing in the isles was her greatest joy.
Those services were often driven by firebrand evangelists, high level emotion, altar calls that ended late at night with people "slain in the Spirit, others testifying to the occasional miraculous healing!
LaDonna's religious experience was a little more subdued, though now she has experienced all of the above, which lends credibility to some of it for me, as I have watched both the balance in her life and the devotion of her faith. She rebounds better than I do at times.
My grands go to church, one supported by amazing children's programs, but their life exposure to religion is quite different than my own, and even their parent's experience. Church culture has shifted in a major way, though many are in denial of that reality.
My grands exposure to poverty is at most by way of some nonprofit charitable effort. Thus the thought of being blessed because of one's faith is foreign. For me as a child watching my parents struggle to buy school lunches, offering heart felt thanks to God for every meal left quite an impression.
As to access to information, professional opportunities, expectations of higher learning, theirs is again totally different, and one of great privilege. College debt is no worry, even the possibilities of totally virtual learning environments, sufficient that brick and mortar campuses, the crazy stories of maturing in a dormitory life setting, may not even be a reality in another decade.
Note how counter cultural my life experience has been relative to theirs. My parents' life experience now light-years from their's.
As to their base of knowledge, one a second grader, the other a fourth, I am astounded at what they know. The Alpha Generation is wired so much different than we Boomers, even Millennials!
Those next generation men and women whom I now mentor seem already less prepared for the hard questions of spirituality, some quite disinterested, though well prepared for competition in an entrepreneurial setting.
However, once comfortable with transparency and vulnerability, an underlying evidence of some spiritual deficit often begins to surface, along with a deep cultural neglect that has left a gnawing reality of unknowning. To me, the steep increase in suicides has parallel significance.
Getting there with the "Next" seems to require more than offering a Sunday School revisit of Bible stories, some avoiding sanctuary experiences altogether. Apart from evidence of deep convictions that manifest as love and compassion for others, such lifestyles of church attendance, even philanthropic generosity are no longer sufficiently convincing of an afterlife or the benefit of spiritual disciplines.
If you have read my blogs for any period of time you know my devotion to morning time in the scriptures now approaching fifty years. Seldom, apart from well-churched Boomers, and the few remaining "Silent Generation" folk like my 98 year-old dad, do I run into folk with such life disciplines, outside of clergy.
I find myself wondering if some other tool, unlike the existing plethora of self-help and devotional reads might be developed for those unlikely to pick up the Book of Books. My goal before departure is to restore and impart some practical value to spirituality in the workplace and community.
Yet, wisdom tells me that almost anything that could be crafted is either already out there, or could easily be crafted by searching the ready volumes of material via ChatGBT (see link below as evidence). However, I will keep unloading my thoughts and stories just the same.
My joy would be to craft short reads, along with life storied thoughts that when some day found, might intrigue those seldom exposed to the faith journey, sufficient to stir the reader's heart and spirit. These blogs are my attempt.
Having seen many through their process of transition, being in the room when their "body falls off," their once felt presence disappearing, I firmly believe that we all are spirits and another world exists to which we all ascend.
My belief is that all of us are assigned a "piece" of this Being with whom we will someday meet, as evidenced in the Christ. As I have said before, fully unpacking that "piece of God, that passes all understanding" is what life is about, far moreso that any accumulation of goods and means.
My journey of faith thus continues and quite opened ended, though anchored and guided by this ancient text, always open to the voice that so clearly speaks each morning, renewing my confidence and hope, as well as my desire for some legacy deposit.