On the Prowl

by Arthur W. Anderson

Hugh Downs was being interviewed one night. Since he is my age I consider him a secret brother. The talk was about aging. That got my attention. He was asked how he viewed the passing of years. In an embarrassed reply, he said he was shocked when he saw himself in photographs because he considered himself still young. Under my breath I said, “Hail to you, Hugh! That’s exactly how I feel.” Ashley Montague, the anthropologist, said his aim was to die young as late as possible. Mine, too.

Now I’d better explain myself lest you think I want to wear my baseball cap backwards, talk “cool, man, cool,” or be a rock devotee. No, I don’t want to be silly! But I want to be open, playful, creative, keep learning, and trust the things that are real within me. Of late, I catch myself dreaming again, looking ahead to see where my life might fit in with the great Architect’s scheme for us human beings. Deep within me insights and meanings sprout up, grow and take shape, and keep crying for some kind of expression. Every now and then through the years, I’ve given sermons in which my organization and verbal pronouncements were good and my substance or purpose was weak. That was undoubtedly necessary as I matured. But now I have arrived at a point where something aches to be said and the occasions for saying it are rare.

Even so, it’s great to be alive, to want to read history, study economics, work my way through the field of anatomy or biology, to discover that there are new places in the world I’d like to explore, to be amazed by the new shapes our living together as races will take. I dare to dream that the church will come out of its denominational and sectarian fortresses, and that we sing the old and new songs while we welcome one another into one new family. And, isn’t it about time? After all, there won’t even be churches in heaven. Not your church or mine. Funny, all those jokes about reserved places for certain denominations will no longer bring a chuckle. St. John says: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

I’m having fun. Every time I visit someone it seems I come upon a new planet. We are not at the place where others think we are. Our patterns of civility make us feel we know where everybody is, who they are, and what they think. Phooey! If we bother to talk with each other about things that matter deeply to us, we come upon a lost island. What if the day comes when we will communicate with each other in our churches about the kingdom within. Last Sunday, coming out of church, one old gent caught up with me and started talking. Out of the blue he said, as we hustled toward our cars: “I don’t think I’ve got a chance with God with the way I’ve lived!” What an opening!