Thinking Out Loud

December 31, 2012

I Am Seeing Ghosts

She walked into my workplace and made very direct eye contact. There was a sign of recognition from her to me, and I did believe she looked familiar. But no name or context appeared as my brain scanned all available memory trying to place her.

She had a wisp of hair in the front that had recently been streaked blonde, contrasting with the light brown tint of the rest of her hair. “Do I know you with a different hair color?” I asked her. It was what I felt was a disarming way of saying, “Do I know you from somewhere?” But isn’t that an overworked pickup line?

I can’t remember with what words she brushed the question aside.  She didn’t offer her name, and I didn’t press any further.

The question was a little creepy, I’ll admit.  Fortunately, she didn’t bolt for the door, but kept shopping, eventually making a rather large purchase.  She looked so familiar, though.

I don’t think I had ever seen her before. Well, not her. I have reached an age where I am seeing ghosts, not in the sense of the spirits of departed people, but the visual twins to people I knew a generation or more ago.

There is a saying that, “When you get older, everything reminds you of something else.” Have I reached that age? That’s scary. Certainly it does seem lately that everybody reminds me of someone I was acquainted with when.

I keep seeing people who are Xerox copies of people from another time and place. The real people in question have aged, but unfortunately, my brain has not been online to receive any updates. The update would consist of seeing the same people as they are now, but that’s not likely to happen.

Before I got married, I drafted an elaborate theory on how there were only 17 facial types, only 17 available sets of eyes, 17 mouth shapes, 17 noses and 17 hair types.  I’m not sure how I came up with the number seventeen, but I believe the number of facial types was meant to take into account ethnic variances as well.  There was some rather lame comment at the time about most of the seventeen being white Caucasian because the others “all looked alike anyway.” I would not get away with that today, but those were different times. Apologies all round.

Combine this with two available sexes, and you are left with 2,839,714 people; so even within the United States and Canada, you’d be dealing with at least ten identical people.  So you don’t have a twin, you have at least nine just within North America if that’s your home.

But the twin thing multiplies when you factor in time. If you have nine look-a-likes now, it’s possible that you also have ten people who are ten years younger than you are right now, who match what you looked like ten years ago. But also that you yourself  look exactly ten people did who are — survival assumed — ten years older.  

Ghosts.  Everywhere.  Walking past each other at the beach, at the mall, at church, at the airport…

The worst case is the summer camp we do volunteer work at. The generation of people we knew now has kids of their own, who show up at the same camp. When I look at Sam (real name) I see Tim (real name). He/they is/are not the only example. The generations start to blend in a brain that is reeling as though  caught in some grand time travel experiment.

Other adult volunteers at the camp tell me our two boys look like me. I don’t see it. Not at all. I don’t say, “You must be crazy;” but I’m thinking they’re probably stretching the point, or maybe it is just that bad hair days (or weeks; years) run in the family.

Or maybe they’re seeing ghosts.

September 4, 2010

Rob Bell Affirms The Bible Promotes Renewal, Not What’s New

Not sure what your opinion is of Mars Hill (Grand Rapids, MI) pastor Rob Bell, but today we listened to a most unusual sermon from a pastor for whom “unusual” is de rigeur.

Actually, as Bell’s preaching goes, this one was somewhat conservative. The message had as its aim the affirmation of aging. He claims that the motivation for this was that it was the day before his 40th birthday; hardly senior status by any measure.

(NIV) II Cor 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

He began with stories of people whose major life accomplishments began at what some would call the later stages of life. The stories highlighted people who were, with each example, progressively older. (Sadly, the slides that go with this sermon weren’t posted online.)

The message functions well on a number of levels. Besides affirming respect for the wisdom and experience of age, it’s also an encouragement to those who are older to reconsider retirement. But most important, it’s a challenge to all of us to rethink the concept that “new is best.”

Bell ends the message with a question that was asked of him — Bell being a guy who knows what it’s like to be the new hot trend — as to how a person can avoid “peaking” after sudden popularity.

(NIV) Psalm 92:12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green…

You can find the 50+ minute sermon here. Click on the message for 8/22 — appropriately titled: The Village Elder.   I’m considering creating some slides myself and then touring the audio message around to some senior’s groups.   I think they’d enjoy what the young guy has to say.

Postscript: The message ends with a story about a guy who was dismissed from his church for attending a Rob Bell conference on his own time with his own money. Not sure how it directly connects, but it shows that the Michigan pastor still has detractors. Not sure what they would find wrong in this message though.

August 9, 2009

Don’t Blame Seniors

Filed under: issues — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:48 pm

This was part of a long e-mail FWD I got today…

it was NOT the senior citizens who took:

The melody out of music,
The pride out of appearance,
The courtesy out of driving,
The romance out of love,
The commitment out of marriage,
The responsibility out of parenthood,
The togetherness out of the family,
The learning out of education,
The service out of patriotism,
The Golden Rule from rulers,
The nativity scene out of cities,
The civility out of behavior,
The refinement out of language,
The dedication out of employment,
The prudence out of spending,
The ambition out of achievement, or,
God out of government and school.

And we certainly are NOT the ones

who eliminated

patience and tolerance

from personal relationships and interactions with others!!

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