Key Word:- CONSIDER
Title:- An Old Skiffler’s Prayer
John 14:2-4 “In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
It was lunchtime when they started gathering under Pavilion No 2, adjacent to Hollywood Beach Boulevard. The hot sun had brought out the gathering 'snow birds' from as far afield as Michigan and Quebec. Motorised scooters, pushed wheelchairs, rubber-wheeled ‘Zimmer’ frames, all carried the crinkly, obese, brown skinned speckled and bespectacled, hat wearing, perm tinted, ‘Joe 90 in his 90’s’, rheumatoid stick people, towards the gathering and slow moving crowd. All this sluggish movement was co-ordinated under the hot sun by an old geezer dressed like ‘Crocodile Dundee’ still kitted out for the movie set, even though he was really on an old pensioners outing to Cleethorpes or some other hot deckchaired waiting room of death. The daily morning gathering of the old survivors of another day of 'life under the sun' had begun.
It was a little bizarre to say the least and to top it all, Pavilion No’s 2 was filled with new state of the art, tall black speakers, complex cables, multi knobbed mixers, shiny saxophones, gaudy guitars, kind clarinets and electric pianolas; surely all very dangerous for the elderly I thought, especially outdoors and with so much water around as well! Then amidst all the technology and crinkly old people, I spotted what I thought was a broom handle sticking out of an old tea chest with a piece of string tightly attached at the top and bottom? Sure enough, it was and the smiling old gargoyle hanging off the end of the contraption commanded the crew and suddenly with a smile and and a simple raised eyebrow, pulled all the creaking and groaning together when with a shout of “1, 2, and a 1, 2, 3, 4” the geriatric gathering groaned into musical life. Limited movement mind you but smiling faces, all soothed and smoothed out now with heavily medicated joints, all now swishing and swaying to and fro together, the implanted tense titanium brushing alongside surgical plastic, inserted aluminium and flesh, and I tell you, for a few minutes, just a few minutes, all the old people had vanished! Looking into their eyes, I could see that they were no longer 80 but maybe 18, somewhere back there, with a girl, a lost love, a young boy, a soldier, all heads bobbing in another time zone, all shoulders slowly moving to recalled memories and to top all the transformation, it was all good physical therapy as well and all for free. Ahhhhh Skiffle! How wonderful.
He told me yesterday on the telephone that just a year ago, he was working outdoors. An older man for sure, but fit, happy and strong, getting ready for retirement. Now as he waited for his cancer induced transplant, the increasing weakness of his body forced him into the deepest of despair. Skiffle and sunshine are of little comfort and poor enjoyment when you finally crawl along the edge of this dark pit of inevitable death and feel its pulling hopelessness. He wasn't sure he would climb back from this edge. Lying flat on his back whilst sucking on bottled oxygen he examined his passing life and questioned the reason and meaning of his existence. “What was the point?” He asked: “What was the point of it all?”
My reply to him was to “find a book”. I said, “Get the biggest one in your house. Open it to the preface, 2nd paragraph down. Now stop. That’s your life.” I said, “That’s all our lives. A few paragraphs in the preface of a book that contains a story few of us ever get to read to the end. It is a very short book at that and mostly mundane. However, those characters belonging to Jesus, those seekers of salvation, those friends of His love, those finders of faith, have their name written now in His book of life, and for such a person, death is but the turning of the preface page where you shall then find yourself in other pages, even the story of the Saviour, beginning the real adventure, the never ending novel, the out of this world opera, the chronicles of the King of love and this time, you shall forever be smiling and in constant happiness, more stronger and satisfied than you ever thought possible.” I told him, “Believe me, your best may have come and gone but His best is yet to come and stay.”
From his wheelchair and under a flat cap on this hot day in Hollywood, another old crinkly crooned and skiffled into the microphone, what should become for us all, a prayer of our old age, our youth, of both our sunshine days and our days of darkness; it’s a peach of a prayer that we should sing to Jesus, our expectant lover. Listen:
Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words hold my hand
In other words:
Darling kiss me
Fill my life with song
And let me sing forevermore
You are all I hope for
All I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words:
I love you
Listen:- Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth — For your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you. Draw me away…… Song of Solomon 1:2-4
Pray: - Lord, in the bright days of my youth, and the dark days of my old age, help me to remember this life of mine, this so very small beginning, this so exceptionally small a paragraph, that it can be found through Jesus to become by Your enormous grace, a great unending book in Your ever growing eternal library of the wonderful works of God the good! Help me write my preface large with big red letters of hope and expectation! Before the dark days come, help me write my preface large with great hands of grace and enourmous letters of courage, let my life right now be a testimony to the better life to come. Amen.