Mindful of the adage "A Fool at Forty is a Fool Forever", I am increasingly anxious that I have now, at 11:32, just 28 minutes to wise up in order to avoid a foolish fate. Alas! Time is not on my side! I hastily console myself with the possibility that there is a grace period during the 40th year of life, during which time one can grow in wisdom and shed foolishness- a twelve month period of transformation, at the end of which one's status as either fool or sage is then fixed forever in the stars.
Of course, I knew before this moment- now 11:38 p.m. on the eve of the fateful fortieth- that this day would come. As early as the age of 18 my aspirations toward sage status became manifest, at least to myself, if not the general observer. Upon the family refrigerator I displayed an image of a future dream: a greeting card purchased at a local bric-a-brac shop with an illustration of a wizened old woman, shawl on shoulders, rocking in her old wooden rocker, gazing out at the mountain top view from the front porch of her humble log cabin. Though my adulthood lay entirely before me at the youthful age of 18, something in that image gave me a sense of déjà vù, or rather foresight. It was how I romantically envisioned myself at the end of a hopefully long life- a content sage, living simply in nature, in a place of solitude and serenity where others might visit for a bit of wise conversation.
11:46-- How do we imagine our ends? Should we even try? Not many enjoy such a mental exercise, and yet it is the way of all flesh. Of course, only our Creator has full knowledge of both our beginnings and our ends, and circumstances entirely beyond our control determine both.
Appreciation of this inevitable truth compels one, or at least encourages one, toward an attitude of humility and gratitude, the opposite of what comes naturally through original sin- pride and the related desire for complete control over our lives. But recognition of a truth does not guarantee acceptance of it- that slow and potentially painful process requires active pursuit of the gift of Grace.
Is it a contradiction to pursue a freely given gift? In the case of Grace I think not, for its Giver clearly desires our cooperation, our will- freely exercised- to be aligned with His.
11:57-- So perhaps this is the ultimate foolishness and the ultimate wisdom- to live out the contradiction of Truth: to humble oneself is to be enriched, to give of oneself is to receive, to be called a fool by the world could have the Angels singing our praises as a sage.
Midnight-- The end of the first half of my life is in fact another beginning-- a new journey toward living as a clever fool, a silly sage, or a wise old woman atop a mountain, sharing lessons learned from life's riddles and wonders 'til she meets the Great Logical Contradiction and all is revealed.
-1 Corinthians 13:12