Every generation worries about the next. Will they appreciate what came before them? Will they take the best of what is and take it to the next level? How will they look at and treat their elders along the way?
The questions are complex and broad enough that one might think they would be difficult to answer. If one was trying to say the right words, it would be hard. As I look at several examples, I experience the next generation using their choices, decisions, and actions as a living way of telling a personalized version of the story which answers the question.
I see a new generation of jazz artists who are building on the foundation established by Monk, Coltrane, Evans, and others. It is in their youthful appreciation for established elder masters that I experience fresh gifts of hope. Joey Alexander is a good example. While he is still a teenager, his old soul and appreciation for the contributions of his elders is clear. He has taken their best and, while paying respect in the best kinds of ways, taken things to a new level.
I am witnessing the words and actions of a striker joining my favorite English football team, describe his appreciation for the mentoring and counsel of a club legend. These could be empty words, and yet, as I walk him dominate the field, I feel as if I am witnessing club legends reincarnated in the next generation.
This observation of this pattern repeats across other sports, F1 and George Russel come to mind, examples of sons carrying on the legends of their fathers in baseball and American football. In each case, it is in their walk and actions that the story is being retold.
As I read Eugene Peterson’s biography, my hope for the next generation is reinforced. His life was a fulfillment of the Psalms, “Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145.4). Yes, the words and how these are expressed change. Faith, compassion, and love remain.