Many years ago, when I first shared with a particular friend that I’d be going to seminary to pursue ordained ministry, he immediately said, “That’s great! From now on anything bad that happens to you can end up in a sermon.”
Well, hopefully that’s not entirely true. I try to keep my dirty laundry in the hamper rather than the pulpit. But occasionally things that happen to me end up in sermons I preach or columns I write since they ideally reflect an intersection between real life and authentic faith.
All of which is to say I passed a midlife milestone this week: I’m now wearing bifocals. Sure,you can call them “progressive lenses” to make me feel better. And while I do consider myself to be a fairly progressive person, I guess this does beat wearing “reactionary lenses.” Plus, no one at the optical store even offered me a pair of rose-colored glasses.
But the term still feels like language meant to soothe the ego rather than reflect the reality of the aging process. Kind of like calling it a “funeral home” instead of “place to warehouse dead people.” I mean, no one actually lives in this alleged “home,” as far as I know.
As I sit in the local coffee shop banging out this article out on my laptop, I’m still getting used to these new glasses. So please excuse any typos. Truth be told, they make me feel drunk — especially on stairs. So please excuse the content as well.
Perspective is, of course, an important theme in life — certainly in our spiritual lives. It is perspective that allows us to embrace an attitude of gratitude. It is perspective that allows us to see the hand of God at work in our daily encounters. It is perspective that encourages us to reach out to those in any kind of need or trouble.
So the filter, or lens, through which we view the world matters. When we take the time to see life through the divine perspective, new sight lines emerge. The colors of God’s creation become brighter and we’re offered a stunning vista of human hope and possibility.
Of course embracing faith does have something in common with bifocals. You keep your original perspective while adding a new one — the divine lens, if you will. And while you occasionally stumble, faith ultimately allows you to see even more clearly. Soon enough, as with breaking in a new pair of glasses, this transformed perspective becomes such a part of you that you couldn't imagine life without it.
I assume it won’t take me too long to get used to these new glasses. Hopefully I’ll be able to see the altar book on Sunday and, if not, I’m sure I can get an acolyte to keep moving it around until I find the sweet spot. And now that I’ve attained this middle-aged rite of passage, I’ll be even more ready for the next milestone. Who’s up for a knee replacement?