The chapters of life
By: By Don Harold Lawrence
When I was a boy, Dad used to tell me that life is divided into chapters. He described certain things that had created specific chapters and stages within his life.
I further realized the truth in what Dad had said when I began reading autobiographies, because as people tell the stories of their lives, they point to particular periods, specific events, significant pivotal points and influential people that impacted and shaped their lives.
Grief causes people to review their own lives and the lives of their deceased loved ones and to realize that life naturally divides itself into unique chapters and segments that evolve due to such factors as childhood, family, talents, vocation, friendships, marriage, children, education, military service, hobbies, interests, religion, health issues, age, places one has lived, circumstances of life and pressures and responsibilities that have necessitated setting priorities.
When people return to their high school class reunions many years after graduation, it is not uncommon for them to see strangers walking around in the bodies of old classmates because these people are no longer where they were long ago. They are now living in different chapters of life. They do not talk, act or think like they did as a sophomore. Their interests, goals, dreams and concerns are now different because they have changed and evolved into different people. As they traveled their road of life, new ideas knocked at the doors of their minds, new impulses emerged in their hearts and new challenges confronted them. They moved into new experiences and accomplished things they never dreamed possible.
As elderly people reflect over their lives, they realize that they are living in the last chapter of life, and they never imagined that life would turn out the way it has. Some look back and regret making foolish decisions and missing golden opportunities; however, there is no going back and changing the past, because the chapters of life have been written. At this juncture one discovers the importance of grace that forgives, accepts and restores.
On the other hand, as many older people look back they are surprised at the positive things that have happened in their lives. Somewhere along the way they had a life-changing epiphany that made them more loving, understanding and forgiving and less critical and judgmental.
As an elderly person takes a newborn grandchild into their arms and looks into that baby’s eyes, they know that new chapters are waiting to be written in the life of this precious infant.
Further resources on this subject: “Passages” by Gail Sheehy, “Stages of Faith” by James Fowler, “Life Maps” by Sam Keen and “The Struggle” of the Soul by Lewis Sherrill.
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.7.08