Saturday, January 7, 2012

Place Holders

            I had such a good time at my brother-in-law’s recent surprise birthday party. He turned the big six-oh and my sister invited family and friends, and a large group attended. The coolest part for me was seeing people I hadn’t seen in years. I saw people I had grown up with and had seen at least weekly at church for twenty-five years. I knew their parents and, in some cases, their grandparents. Then I moved away and I hadn’t seen some of them for thirty years or so. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to be intimidated by gatherings like this because sometimes it’s hard for me to pull up a name that hasn’t crossed my lips in ten, fifteen, twenty or more years.
            And they had changed. They were older. Well, we were all older.
            I knew them when we were children bounding around the churchyard playing tag or hide-and-seek. I knew them in their pressed Sunday suits and their pretty dresses. I knew them when our eyes were bright and innocent. I went to school with them and knew them into early adulthood. I knew them when they married and when their children were born. I knew the events in their lives which had brought joy. I knew the events which had brought sorrow.
            We were family.
            Then I moved and our paths seldom crossed. I felt a pang of remorse that I had moved and lost touch, but one can only follow his destiny.
            We’re grandparents now. I’ve mentioned before that I’m an observer and as I watched the other night, I started thinking. It occurred to me we are all place-holders. We were the grandchildren of our grandparents, the children of our parents. Then we took the places they had held. We became the parents of our children and then the grandparents of our grandchildren.
            I began to wonder what it was all about. Through the ages the march of humanity has been an endless procession of place-holders: we’re born, we live, we die and another generation steps up to take our places. We take the place held by our parents then our children take that place from us. The term, place-holder, may sound insignificant. It isn’t. I think I can argue that being a place-holder is a significant part of why we’re here.
            What have I done as a place-holder? Have I taught my children to respect themselves and others? Have I taught them how to make their way in life? Have I taught them the difference between right and wrong, the difference between faith and religion, between wanting and needing, between inner wealth and a gilded exterior?
            It will be obvious to you that place-holding has application beyond our families to life in general. Have I done anything in my time here to benefit the human race? Is that too ambitious? Have I done anything in my time here to benefit even one other human being? Or has my life been only about me?

            These are questions worth reflection. And it’s not a bad thing to reflect upon life.

No comments:

Post a Comment