Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Nothing so erases the flow of time and brings me back quickly and fully to myself, the man I started out as, the seventeen year old with eyes aglow with wonder, and heart beating faster as the world of new freedom and of love opened itself before my path, nothing so brings me back, as the sweet songs of the young Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who now, like yours truly, are also clothed with many years. When I hear them sing, I can’t help but join in, and I forget I am sixty-three, or maybe, because I want to sing these songs in the presence of my young friends, show them that there’s nothing to fear in ‘getting old,’ that in fact, there is no such thing as age, really. Who and what we are remains forever the same, and forever young. That is, unless we kill it.

I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song.
I’m twenty-two now, but I won’t be for long.
Time hurries on,
and the leaves that are green turn to brown.

I remember distinctly, singing that song at the ripe old age of twenty-one, the year I waved good-bye to my teary-eyed Mom standing in the front porch of her house in Joliet, Illinois, and drove my heavily-loaded Pinto to what I would later call ‘the Great White North,’ to Canada. I was still singing that song a year later, when I got married, wondering when I would be a grownup. Would it be now, now that I had known a woman for the first time? Was I a man yet? Or was I still just a boy?

Once my heart was filled with the love of a girl.
I held her close, but she faded in the night
like a poem I meant to write,
and the leaves that are green turn to brown.

Like the song, my life went through many turns, ups and downs, but I still never quite got past being twenty-two, and I was still singing. Not just this song, but most of the others of the melodious duo, ‘I am a Rock,’ and ‘Sounds of Silence,’ and ‘I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail’ (aka ‘El Condor Pasa’). I am still singing them today, and when I do they re-vest me in my boyhood dreams like a suit of old, comfortable clothes, and the man that looks out of these eyes and whose voice sings these songs engraved on his heart, remains the same.

No worry then, about getting old. I swear by heaven and earth, I, no, we don’t change. We’ll be the same at sixty-three, as I am now, as we were at seventeen, and will still be at seventy, eighty, ninety, and still counting. Not for nothing did Christ Jesus the Child Leader tell us that only those will enter the Kingdom of His Father who enter as children. Nor did the prophet-psalmist-king and lover David chant in vain, that those who trust, who ‘trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion’ (Psalm 125), and ‘who murmur His law day and night’ are like trees yielding their fruit in season, their leaves never fading (Psalm 1).

Ah, and that brings us back to the song, ‘and the leaves that are green turn to brown.’ I sing it now and am again what I was, and always will be, and I laugh at the fear that I could ever grow old, and I shyly smile at the boys who wrote that song, who also didn’t know what the years ahead would hold. We think when we are young we will live forever, and we can become careless. And in the pursuit of pleasure we sometimes trade our glory for shame, our youth for old age. We convince ourselves that we can be measured in years, as our coffins are measured in inches.

But no, the Truth has come to dash our delusions, if only we welcome Him in ourselves, who is forever with us, in us, even as us, being carried as always in tender arms, till that last day when we are delivered, yes, when He delivers us, and yet we will sing then as ever,

Yahweh, my heart has no lofty ambitions,
my eyes do not look too high.
I am not concerned with great affairs
or marvels beyond my scope.
Enough for me to keep my soul tranquil and quiet
like a child in its mother's arms,
as content as a child that has been weaned.

Israel, rely on Yahweh,
now and for always!
Psalm 131
Jerusalem Bible

No comments: