Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”

Mid-October, time for my annual physical, the yearly trip across the water to the Everett Clinic to visit my medical doctor. My goal each year is to have the first appointment of the day. As an aside, I also like to be on the first plane out of SeaTac when I fly. It is much less likely that first planes and first appointments will be delayed. Sorry if I lost you; SeaTac is the name of a place south of Seattle where in years past, airplanes were used to transport people to exotic locations and family reunions.

The other reason that I like the first appointment at the clinic each October has to do with fasting. Fasting through the first six hours of a new day is not a problem for me. In fact, I do it most every day. But by 6:00 a.m. I have a cup of coffee in my hand. I might go hours more without food, but I wake up looking for coffee. Thanks to Covid-19, I had only two options for this appointment; a yearly physical by Zoom or a 9:00 a.m. appointment in-person wearing a mask. Now how can I do my annual physical by Zoom? Once a year I have bloodwork done so they can check my fluids and ask me if I work in a hazardous workplace where copious amounts of cookies are available. Forget the Zoom. I will be there at 9:00 a.m.

When I was finally ushered into exam room one, it felt like I was home. October in exam room one has been a tradition for 30 years. The nurse who took my vitals was not alive 30 years ago, but she was kind, caring, and slipped out to prepare shots for me. Alone now, I tried to read the eye chart. It might be my imagination, but it seemed to be further away than it was last year. There was laughter and joking in the hall, a sure sign that my doctor of 30 years was about to enter exam room one. My doctor is a PLU graduate, we have children the same age, we have had 30 years’ worth of life sharing. We buried our parents, we married off our children, we celebrated the birth of grandchildren, we spoke of trips taken and work complications. For the vast majority of those 30 years we saw each other only once a year, but we count each other as friends.

When my doctor entered exam room one, behind the masks our eyes lit up, no handshake this year but it was good to see each other. After catching up on life, family, church, and pandemic, he asked me, “In general how is your health; what concerns do you have?” Without hesitation, I said, “I can’t hear, I can’t see, I don’t sleep well, I have headaches every week, and if I sit too long my body hurts.” He replied, “Sounds age appropriate. Get your bloodwork and I will see you next October.”

Age appropriate, I guess that sums it up. We don’t expect our Trinity Preschoolers to act like adults, we expect them to act like four-year-olds. Age appropriate, we should not expect aging parents or grandparents to have the stamina that they displayed in younger years. Age appropriate, teenagers need to exert some independence, they need to test their wings as they get ready to fly. We might want to keep them little, tuck them into bed each night and protect them from all harm, but at some point, that is not age appropriate.

Next October, God willing, I will get on the ferry and make the yearly visit to the Everett Clinic. My expectations should be realistic, I think it is clear that the young doctor that I met 30 years ago is aging, and so am I. After all of these years, after all of the shared seasons and cycles, it is time now for us to grow old, aging like a fine glass of Boone’s Farm wine. Age appropriate, may we grow old gracefully, thankful always, reflective of the journey, taking time to pray and think, quick to forgive and forget, slow to judge, patient with the upcoming generations, sharing our wisdom only when asked, and resisting the temptation of crankiness. Cranky is age appropriate for tired two-year-olds, the rest of us should learn to adjust our attitudes. And finally, may we be generous always, there is not a thing that we are taking with us when we leave this world, having the biggest headstone in the cemetery should not be our goal. The joy of sharing can help overcome the reality of aging.

The young nurse returned with two shots in hand. With skill she injected a flu shot and a shingles shot into my right arm. For the next 36 hours every muscle in my body hurt!

I can’t see, I can’t hear, and I can’t remember what else I wanted to write in this missive, age appropriate.

One day closer,
Pastor Jim