I’m not sure why but of late three things have been much on my mind –
- the word “grownup” (does anyone grow down?),
- Jack of Beanstalk fame and
- the world into which I recently slipped – or involuntarily slid – or maybe was pushed when I passed my 89th
Why now? Is it because I am nearing 90 that end-of-life milestone that these three items are on my mind? Maybe. But as I fiddled with the three-some cited, a number of feelings surfaced starting with the word “grownup”.
Digging around a little I discovered that “grown up” popped up in the English language in the 17th century. Among several of its early meanings that word refers to growing, or becoming mature, or being adult, even ripening. As I researched one of the questions I had was, “Is anyone ever fully grown up and, if so, how would she/he know?” What do you think?
As I traveled further down that road I wondered, “Do we first become a fully developed Grown UP, then shift life gears and start growing DOWN—whatever that might mean?” I suspect that thought stemmed from the fairy story of Jack and his bean stalk that involved going UP the stalk and then DOWN. Remember?
Jack was the son of a poor widow who sent him to sell her last possession: a cow. Enroute to town Jack was talked into swapping the cow for some “magic” beans. When he got back home and told his mom about his big deal she exploded with anger, threw those beans as far as she could, sent Jack to bed and grieved all night over having such a clueless son.
Overnight those beans sprouted where they were thrown and became a mighty vine sprang from the ground and swooped up into the clouds. When Jack awoke and saw what had happened he clambered up that vine until he reached a giant’s castle where he found a pot of gold, a goose that laid golden eggs and a magic harp. Snagging all three he slid down that vine bee lining it for home sweet home, the giant hot on his trail. In the nick of time he hit the ground, chopped down the vine where it was goodbye giant and hello happily-ever-after. Lutheran that I am I immediately asked, “What might all that mean?” Could the story be about everyone’s experiences as they were growing older until they found themselves hip deep in the golden years (like my today?) wondering what else is there yet to come in life, Alfie?
As a Christian I know there is more. I’m heading for my Father’s house. But what am I to do down here until that roll is called up yonder? Shall I park my bus and wait? Do I start growing down even though there is no reverse life? No way. Life is a one-way bean stalk. We can grow only one way – up!
If portions of the Psalms and many other places in Scripture are to be believed once we pass that three score and ten mile-stone there’s still much more gold in them thar’ comin’ years waiting to be found. Endless TV commercials and print media ads push a their back-to-our-teens Plan B with youth-restoring pills, potions, lotions, dietary supplements and medical devices all guaranteed to reverse the tide of time. I see them as age-denial fakes, short term placebos that steal from me the individualized golden years God tailored just for me. To do what? The gold is not in me. It’s in caring for those still on the way. Psalm 78:5-7 is a great growing up guide when it tells us:
“He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them – the children yet unborn – and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments…”
Translation? Grown Ups stay busy helping their Growing Up descendants by Growing Out to them!
Psalm 70:17,18 offers another punchy insight that will keep your Grown Up life growing:
“O God, from my youths thou hast taught me, and I still proclaim thy wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, till I proclaim thy might to all the generations to come. Thy power and Thy righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens.” Translation? We’re on duty, creaky bones and all, until we die.
At 89 years and 9 days I’m a work in process, a 21st century Growing UP great grandparent who is committed to Growing Out. So, what else is there to do? Want to team UP?