Years ago, I had the good fortune to act for nearly a year as interim pastor for two Congregational churches north of my hometown of Mitchell, SD. During that period, my companion was a dog named Henry on loan from my younger brother. Henry had gotten in trouble with the dogcatcher in Mitchell and I bailed the two out by bringing Henry to Letcher.
The dog and I became good friends and were seen regularly navigating in and around the small town. Inevitably, I decided that Henry needed to learn a few things my brother had never taken the time to teach the aging fellow. He was nearing 13 at the time. So, I the perennial teacher set to work on a regular basis to give Henry some lessons. At the same time, he taught me a few.
Although it was not an easy task, my canine friend succeeded in learning to shake, crawl, and roll over with inducements of food and treats. His triumphs inclined me to consider a special sermon and bring Henry to church one Sunday and demonstrate that "Old dogs can learn new tricks."
For various reasons, the sermon never eventuated. But, I can definitely confirm that old dogs can learn. My Year of Silence reminded me of that experience. At the same time, it showed me that learning can be a chore at any age. But, I believe, we ought to be learning until our very last embodied days. Waste not, want not. There should be plenty of time to rest and recuperate on the other side.
Since taking up speaking again, a number of things have come to my attention of which I will now mention two. Firstly, when I have a conversation, I watch myself talking too much. Which will hopefully push me all the more to attend my words. Secondly, I have decided that people are saying the same things as they were a year or two or three ago. I admit I have done some of that myself.
That has suggested to me that we may be too often involved with old stories and "old tricks." One fellow I visited with in the grocery store is still dealing with a problem from 2 1/2 years past. He claims to be trying to find homes for the cats which belonged to his woman friend and neighbor. He is having little success, it seems. He now has around 60 cats. Surely, there were not that many when she died.
I think we should be dealing with new problems and opportunities, new tricks and new possibilities. As much as possible. Though we age, we do have some choices and options. Why not spend our time growing into the new instead of worrying about the old?
A later blog will continue in this vein in coming weeks. Hopefully sharing new ideas.
Happy New Year.