There’s this brilliant guy in our church—let’s call him Norbert—who has always inhabited the worlds of front-edge science and theology. When Norbert speaks, his questions and ideas may sometimes be hard to understand. Knowing him all these years, I’m pretty sure that he knows—and perhaps laments—that many of us may never catch up to his levels of intellect and understanding. That his array of significant questions will remain unanswered.
Norbert is like any of us who realize that during our lifetimes, we may never see the results of our work. Of our searching. Astrobiologists—scientists who look for evidence of life beyond Earth—are another example. So are theologians who challenge incomplete interpretations of Scripture, teachers whose students mature in hopeful-but-unknown ways, social critics who have scouted our culture’s future and parents whose adult children are still finding their place in the world.
As I get older, I realize how little I’ve learned, and also how much of what I have learned is subject to the winds of time—getting lost in the swirl of events or competing ideas. In many of these blogs you’ve seen my hope that those who are “people of a certain age” will leave behind us lasting legacies of knowledge, skills and attitudes that will benefit future generations. We’re stewards of future growth, gathering, fostering and inspiring others who will come after us. This hope transcends egotism, instead exhibiting our love for the world that’s just over the horizon.
I don’t want to be paralyzed by plaintive nostalgia or mourning, so I keep working at the hopeful, practical task of strengthening relationships, enterprises and institutions—especially the Church—that will carry forward the most essential qualities of a faith-filled life into coming generations.
And I keep trying to understand Norbert….
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