The Last of Life: A Sign of New Life

Image by Esmie Fisher
Image by Esmie Fisher

By Doug Jackson

Earlier in February, muse Crystal Hurd wrote about her adult discovery of liturgy after a lifetime of the rather frantic freedom of our common Baptist heritage. Pondering her new-found fascination balanced by her new-found ignorance (the only combination, I think, for learning anything), Crystal wrote, “Time and study will remedy this, will water the seed to fruition. But for now, I will not punish myself for such a tardy start.” The line struck me: That was a poem waiting to be plucked!

Isn’t that one of the signs – perhaps one of the best signs – of new life? Will Rogers once said that we’re all ignorant, just about different things. Nicodemus was highly informed about Torah and Midrash but needed baby-fresh eyes to see the Kingdom. He thought it was too late, but it never is, as Tennyson’s Ulysses reminds us: “‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” Or at least to seek new things in the one we inhabit. “Grow old along with me!,” invites Browning’s Rabbi Ben Ezra, “The best is yet to be,/The last of life, for which the first was made.” What a shame to deny ourselves the last because we see the first as wasted time rather than prep time!

Sometimes the sign of life is one that reads, “Wrong Way,” and a fresh start means a new path. “I will not punish myself for such a tardy start.”

Meditations of a Late and Perpetual Bloomer

“I will not punish myself for such a tardy start.” – Crystal Hurd

I will not punish myself
For such a tardy start,
Choke new life’s roots with tendrils of regret.
I will not indulge myself
In sighs and shoulds and sobs
Shards, flints, and pebbles flung on hope’s young breast.
I will not excuse myself
From starting where I am,
Beginning my new song with my next breath.
Eleventh-hour vineyards
May yet yield rich rewards.
Though late I’ve loved, I’ll love in what comes next.

*****

Doug Jackson is a preacher/professor/poet who after a quarter-century in the pastorate now teaches spiritual formation, pastoral ministry, and Greek for the Logsdon Seminary program at the South Texas School of Christian Studies in Corpus Christi. His collection of poetry, Nothing There is Not More, is available from Finishing Line Press.

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