As a young child I can remember sitting and listening to the stories of the old ones. It was my term for anyone my grandfather’s age and older. Grandpa Lange told the greatest ones! From his stories, life was a grand adventure. When he was in the story, my grandfather seemed to play the role of an instigator and catalyst. I doubt it was quite as simple as the stories went. Regardless, they were amazing.
The recurring theme I remember walking away with was one of trying. It was impossible, no worries, just try. The road was impassible, no matter. Let’s give it a go. If things broke, and they did often, there were no cell phones or ways to communicate easily. Help was what you carried with you, nothing more. If the engine dies, it is up to those present to do something. Adapting, making do, and experimenting were the responses of choice.
Sadly, I have long forgotten many of the details. I vividly recall my impression of their spirit. With the memory of their passing, a tear comes as well as a sense of resolve. They never gave up. They were ready to go. Service was at the heart of their lives. They deeply cared, from the inside out.
As I reflect on a piece of advice, I find myself remembering the old ones. “If someday you are going to rule on the world’s fate, wouldn’t it be a good idea to practice on some of these smaller cases? Why, we’re even going to judge angels! So why not these everyday affairs?” (1 Corinthians 6.3)
The old ones I remember practiced, a lot. They did not always gets things right. They learned, worked to right their mistakes, and moved on. They engaged in the business of living. Sometimes they went looking for tigers at night. On other occasions they risked their lives to make a difference for their community. Life was often hard. Certainty was never assumed. Sacrifice was a familiar friend. Life, then and now, is for living. It’s now our turn.