Thursday, November 5, 2015

Stages of Life

“I know better by now than to try to predict what is to come. But of all of the stages of my life – Goforth, Squires Landing, The Good Shepherd; Pigeonville, Lexington, Port William – this one here on the riverbank bids fair to be the last. Unless of course I fall and break something or become an emergency of some other kind, and give up the ghost finally in front of the institutional TV set down at Hargrave. Who knows?”[1]

Chapter 27 of Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow tells the story of Jayber moving from his life as the village barber to taking up residence in a “little camp house” along the river. From his “public life” to the commencement of “a private one.” As he moves, he reminisces about his life and its stages by referring to the places he had lived.

It got me thinking about the stages of my own life and the places I have lived. I wrote a list of all the places I could remember that I had lived. It wasn’t a long list and it was a good exercise for me. It occurred to me that the stages of my life did not always change with the location in which I lived. Sometimes it was just a move. Other times it was a paradigm shift in my way of life. I am a farmer’s son who helped with many a carpentry, mechanical, or veterinary task. I am the science nerd who created experiments to diagnose genetic disorders using the latest DNA technologies in a clinical laboratory. I have lived in one of the most densely populated portions of Vancouver and I have lived where there was a full section of land between us and our neighbours. I am a son, a husband, a father, and a grandfather. I am a pastor, church planter, teacher, and administrator. I am the generalist who knows something about many topics. I have spent time regretting that I have not learned enough in one specific area and I have rejoiced in the fact that God has given me a good mind with which to understand the world. I have spoken with people who were at the top of their field of science, philosophy, education, theology, entertainment, and financial investment. I have spoken with people who suffered abuse and who went on to harm others and spend a good portion of their life in prison. I have seen people healed of their diseases and I have watched friends die at a young age.

Much like the character of Jayber Crow, I would say that “Some of the changes in my life were imposed, and some were chosen. . . And each change has been a birth, each having taken me to a new life from which I could not go back.”[2] I have often wondered what would have happened if there were other impositions or other choices along the way. “But of course I have no answer.”[3]

Works Cited:

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2000.

[1] Berry, Wendell, Jayber Crow, p. 299.
[2] Berry, Wendell, Jayber Crow, p. 299.
[3] Berry, Wendell, Jayber Crow, p. 299.

1 comment:

  1. Most enjoyable, Keith, especially the part where you lived in Vancouver. (You & Maureen were the best neighbors in the world, as I always say). Your writing is so lovely & I wish you both the very best of luck wherever life takes you. You both deserve nothing but the very best.