Saturday, January 29, 2011

Being Sixty (2): The Minnemingo Effect

Getting older teaches something, something I should always have known. I am not in control. Of anything. Forty-two years ago on the day before my 18th birthday I floated down the Minnemingo (or Yellow Breeches Creek) in flood. Dale and I began our canoe trip celebrating the end of the semester. A half hour later he almost finished it grieving the end of life. He ran from bridge to bridge under which the Minnemingo flowed, wondering if I had drowned, while I held with desperate strength on to the overturned canoe. Then Dale found me, and some nearby fishermen pulled me out, a bigger catch than usual!

At 18 I felt little outward fear -- the stereotypical invincible teenager. I feel the danger in retrospect, but then, not so much. Today, safe in my chair and pen in hand, I feel the river sweep me on, out of control towards a destination I cannot properly guess. "I am a stranger here within a foreign land ... ." I know that the destination is heaven: Siyekhaya ezulwini! True enough; but I cannot guess clearly what that means.

Meanwhile the Minnemingo effect is at work. Time flows in flood, each moment washing over me remorselessly. Some moments are wonderful; some are quiet; some painful. they all sweep me down the Minnemingo towards the great river (the Susquehanna, in earthly geography; the Jordan in some greater dimension). And I'm still clinging to my little canoe with desperate strength.

Life is good. And I am not in control.

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