Dear God,

Life begins all rush and eagerness:
First Tooth, First Long Trousers,
First Grade, First Communion, First Date, First Prom, First Year Away at School,
First Job, First Apartment, First Love,
Everything changes...

But You are always with me, God, sustaining, and ever unchanging.

Then maturity, responsibility, career,
new friends and old coming and going.
New living quarters, new adventures
and achievements. Lasting love.

Busy, busy, and I may have forgotten
You often, God. But You never forgot me,
and You are with me now, this very moment.

First gray hair, mid-life crises, travel,
gains and losses, security and insecurities,
same-old, same-old, passing years ...

You quell my fears, God. You are with me.

... and suddenly, the long-awaited,
longed-for time to retire arrives.
Solid gold-watch presentation, or at least
expressions of thanks and appreciation.

Then, exciting freedom, peace and quiet,
empty days, leisure, relaxation,
open schedule, release from responsibilities.

Next, solitude, as days dwindle down.
Time slows by on silent slippers, inescapably, inexorably, leaving wrinkles, and blurring eyesight, stealing names
and memories
as eternity looms large and ever more imminent.

You are ever more on my mind, God.

The grand and gaudy attractions
of this wonderful, dazzling, mercurial world
begin to fade - as gradually, imperceptibly, ever so silently, they lose their grand appeal in the quiet sunsets: been there,
done that. Again? Not so much.

Friends start making their exits,
moved to the coast, email not valid,
notably or silently, they disappear
one by one, out of the phone chain,
letters returned, MIA, off into the sunset
with John Wayne.

But You, please, stay with me, God. Hold me, Jesus. You are my rock and my foundation,
my hope and my salvation.

Bones weaken, muscles tire and ache.
Breath shortens and energy flags.
Accustomed distances lengthen.

The previous things of great importance
fade a bit and seem not so important
as before. Been there. Done that.
The daily news seems not so new as oh,
so, old.

Thoughts and hopes turn silently
toward eternity in the quiet of a sleepless night or with a sudden start while on a busy street, perhaps seeing a church steeple,
or a baby, a funeral procession or a joyful wedding party.

Help me, now, God, to place my soul in order,
its chambers swept and dusted, the detritus of ignobility and the cobwebs of indolence and negligence dealt with and exorcised.

The sins lurking in soul-cellar darkness
or in the dusty attic of the mind, please
sweep them all away.

Now petty grievances are laundered
or forgotten. Material possessions?
Not so valued. Hurts? Forgiven. Aches? Offered up to You with Your torture
on the Cross as penance for my sin-falls
and my failures.

With regrets and temptations now left behind, I can take cloak and staff, merits
and verities in hand when the dark angel knocks, and the door to eternity swings wide.

No, I know not the day nor the hour but I can neither deny nor defy the certain,
the inevitable.

Let me then prepare to leave willingly,
unsurprised, joyfully resigned,
with anticipation, godly fear, empty handed except for my small charities, and with-hope upon-hope upon long-held-hope, and trust
in You, the Master Who made me for eternity.

Thank You for this life, my Creator,
my dear Lord. Let me come to You meek
and hopeful at Your command. Into Your hands I commend my spirit. I am Yours alone now
and forever. Do with me what You will.
I am Yours.


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