Saturday, March 7, 2009

Freedom to Run

mini butterfly 2

It is two weeks since I returned from my trip to North Carolina to visit Son 1, his beautiful wife, and our three wonderful Sprittles (grandchildren that is-- Boo, Bee, and Colonel Mustard). They are 4 years, 3 years, and just a tad over 2 months, respectively. Colonel Mustard, the baby's nickname, was conferred upon him one day by his older brother Boo while watching Beautiful Mommy change the Colonel's colorful diaper. I just love those Sprittles!

The point is that my small suitcase is still waiting to be unpacked. I don't know why I have such an aversion to unpacking a suitcase. Maybe it's because I'm incredibly lazy, or I am lacking a place for all the stuff that's in there. I accumulate stuff way too easily.

(Would you excuse me for a minute? I need to go unpack that suitcase, right now!)

I had the privilege of caring for my Dad in his final year this side of eternity. A few years before he came to live with us I noticed something strange occur. One day he started going through his stuff and giving or throwing it away. Although possessing the right hairline or( lack thereof), Daddy was no Mr. Clean. This was not normal behavior!

My sister and I went into an immediate panic--we were afraid he might find little meaning in some important family memento, and our meager inheritance end up on the curb with the yard trash. But we shouldn't have worried. When the time came to empty his house we found plenty he overlooked. (for example, he never met a screwdriver he didn't like. Or cameras or electronic gadgets. The man LOVED electronic gadgets.)

I think I am beginning to understand a little of what must have been going on behind Dad's urge to purge. Well into his eightieth year, he had left forty way behind and was almost down the other side of "the hill". Intuitively he felt the marching orders from his Creator had arrived, and like others of the Greatest Generation, he was obeying them without question.

In order to save his ebbing energy, he was unpacking for his final journey.

I believe our lives can be divided into three seasons. The first 40 years is spent in acquisition of experiences, achievements, and possessions on our upward climb of "the hill", everything we think will make our lives comfortable and happy. The second comes at the top of that hill, a chance to survey all we've accomplished and begin to sort through what is really important. It's there we identify all those non essentials our youthful inexperience had valued: the pretense, the fears, the volume of stuff we thought would make us happy but didn't.

The final season is one of increasing freedom as we jog casually down the hill we had struggled to climb, resting along the way to enjoy the view, our relationships, and unpack another silly encumbrance we had never before questioned. Like the caterpillar in its cocoon we are preparing to morph into a beautiful new creature no longer bound by the gravity of this earth. Caterpillars need cocoons and lots of food. Butterflies only need the flower's nectar and the wind.

I have a new appreciation for St. Paul's admonition in Hebrews 12:1(New International Version):
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

And that's just what Daddy did. He let go of all this transient world views as important in order to firmly grasp the reality of the eternal world on his horizon. He was unpacking for the journey. It was his way of conserving his strength for the last leg of the race, marshaling every ounce of energy he had left for that final burst through the finish line.

Unpacking for his final journey gave him the freedom to run.