By the time you read this essay I will be in Portland, Oregon to see my new granddaughter, and, of course, her now big sister, Cleo.
It’s hard to be contemporaneous when an essay has to be written the week before it runs in The Focus. However, I’m not complaining because I write as an avocation, not as a vocation or for a paycheck. I write for joy, so once a week is enough.
Many of you are focused on the midterm elections and perhaps expected something from me in this regard. If you were anticipating a political polemic you’d be mistaken. I’m over it. I’ve done all I can to educate about the clear choices. And as Julius Cesar said just before he crossed the Rubicon river, “The die is cast.” There will be an America after November 6, 2018, though it may be different than I or others might wish.
The Psalmist sang, “Children are a heritage from the Lord. They are arrows in a warrior’s quiver” (Psalms 127:3-4). However, the Proverbist best captures my current thoughts writing, “Grandchildren are jewels in the crown of the aging” (Proverbs 17:6). I love my life, I love my wife and I love my Lord. I love my children, but I worship my grandchildren, though this is hyperbole rather than idolatry. Perhaps my love for grandchildren is because I’m in a different place and time of my life, and I now see things from the perspective of the “aging,” but not aged!
In antiquity, names were important and chosen carefully to reflect the nature of an individual. And perhaps a person’s name and moniker shapes his or her life and aspirations. My daughter and son-in-law chose the name Rita Maeve for the newest star in our family’s firmament. Rita means pearl and Maeve is Gaelic and alludes to intoxicating joy. So, my granddaughter is the pearl that brings great joy. How true.
One of the most intriguing stories in the Bible is Moses’ encounter with the burning bush. Just as a book is often better than a movie adaptation, Cecil B. DeMille did not capture the mystery when Moses impertaintly asked God for his name. I’m not being critical of Moses, after all it was circa 1400 BC and Moses needed to be able to tell the captive Israelites in Egypt who he was representing. God’s reply was the majestic, timeless and mysterious, “I am that I am.” And the great I Am still resonates through the ages.
Having come of age in the sixties, music of The Beatles still flows through my veins and the integrated circuitry of my nervous system. The Beatles’ repertoire is extensive, but I especially like the songs “Anna” and “When I’m Sixty-Four.” But now I will have to move the song “Lovely Rita” [Little Maeve] to the top of my list!
I continue to be amazed by the technology at our fingertips which enlightens, entertains, connects and allows us to find answers to our questions. I’m inquisitive and a bit bookish. And I enjoy learning and searching for answers. A friend of mine has a new job which requires her to spend several hours each day researching topics of her interest and specialty. I’m envious that I was never offered such employment. However, with Google I can now research my interests and fancies on the fly! My wife, Becky is more practical than me, but her curiosity has been set free by the new technology. She probably would never go to the research desk of the library. Now, she doesn’t need to. She just asks Mr. Google, though we’re both using DuckDuckGo as a search engine because of the problems with Google, FaceBook and the like. There is no tracking of your searches with DuckDuckGo, so your information cannot be collected and sold.
Though we live two thousand miles from Portland, the new technology allows us to Facetime, share pictures and videos, and communicate almost instantaneously by text across the country or across town with our other daughter. As I was writing this essay, I received pictures and a video of my Portland grandchildren Trick or Treating. I feel like I’m connected to the Portland Sipes clan just as I’m connected to the Johnsons who rang my doorbell in Halloween regalia on All Hallows’ Eve. How mankind has advanced from painted portraits, to daguerreotypes, to photography and now digital imagery captured on the computer in my hand. And best of all, the digital camera with my iPhone is always in my pocket so I’m no longer running to find my SLR (single lens reflex) camera and missing the moment. And staged pictures are often less intriguing than spontaneous words.
I wonder what new advances await Rita Maeve and my other grandkids. I’m currently working on the second novel in my planned science fiction trilogy, where I explore the next leap in human development. I speculate on a technology which allows the integration of computers and biology. My goal is to complete the first draft of my novel this winter. We’ll see. But then perhaps we’re already within the next leap forward and we just don’t perceive the flux. If you asked a fish about the water around him, he might respond with, “What water?”
I worry about my kids, my grandkids and the country. However, most of the time my concerns are more than tempered by the wonder and majesty of God’s Creation I see everywhere. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 that “we see dimly” and we only “know in part.” So, I’m comfortable not knowing everything and trusting in the Lord that it will all work out. Some may see this as solipsistic and non-rational blather. I see it as a better way to live. I believe that a spiritual perspective “makes life better now, and there is the hope of then.” It is my hope and prayer that my grandchildren, my family and my country figures this out.