Tuesday, May 21, 2013

'A people not yet created'

Psalm 106:18-20 (NIV)

Let this be written for a future generation,
   that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
   from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
   and release those condemned to death.”
I don’t have any misconceptions about anything I write being someday valued by future generations, but I do occasionally consider the way the generations of my own family overlap, the legacies each of us might be able to leave and how memories can linger.

My mom’s maternal grandmother was born in 1901. She had seven great-grandchildren. Although she lived until 1995, only four of us had been born by then. At 16, I had plenty of time to establish a relationship with her and build up a bank of memories to last my lifetime. For my young siblings and cousins, however, that’s a much taller order. This doesn’t make me special, of course, just older. My youngest cousin turns nine at the end of this year. Hopefully she lives a life as long and full as our Nana, and who knows what special relatives she might get to know and love over the next eight decades or so.

The idea of “a people not yet created” is perhaps more poignant at a time when we’re counting down the months until a new baby arrives in our family. Though we’re in the phase where the biggest impact of pregnancy is Kristie being unable to accompany the boys on a single roller coaster, the notion of a growing family is inescapable — and pleasantly so. Thinking about how life will be this time next year, when we’ll be completely consumed with a tiny person we don’t know today, is something of a window into the longer-term future as well.

Chances are at least one of our boys will get married. Odds are good we’ll be grandparents some day — far into the future, but still possible — and to consider the partners who might one day join our family, the bonds we might form with the families that raised them and ultimately the children those unions could produce is the kind of mind fodder that makes me realize how important it is to do as good a job as possible raising our children now.

No pressure or anything, but we are shaping future husbands and fathers and grandfathers, perhaps establishing traditions or opinions that will long outlive our humble bodies. The flip side is the potential to be remembers as a monumental “how not to” example and living on only in infamy.

It also makes me feel quite small in relation to the vast number of people walking the planet, the billions who have come before and the billions more who will follow, and how all of us humans pale in comparison to the permanence of God. That we’re even able to be here in the first place, much less form deep relationships, lasting bonds and perhaps contribute positively to future generations is a mind-boggling gift.

In much the same way as folks feel it’s important to be good stewards of the planet (I tend to agree), it seems at least as important, if not far more so, to try to be good stewards of humanity — to accept the gift of life and make the most of it by doing it right, being good to one another, choosing to love first and trying to leave things better than they were upon arrival. I hope I’m up to the task.

A prayer for May 21:

Lord, your power and majesty are beyond my understanding. The scope of creation is far too grand for me to imagine. That I am here at all is a blessing, that I have so many special people with whom to share life is even more special and to know of your love for me is almost impossible to fathom. Thank you for today and the chance to make the most of life. Help me do my best to make the most out of tomorrow as well. Amen.

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