Be prepared.... When I am really tired I either get completely witless or I turn introspective and philosophical. Tonight, it is the latter.
I have a confession to make.
I laugh at people. Hair, clothes or lack thereof, habits, and cliche-ridden speech patterns are all fair game. Perhaps it is the result of reading Pride and Prejudice a few too many times and trying to emulate Elizabeth Bennet, but I love absurdities and quirks.
Perhaps that will explain why the last two days seemed a little strange. It started yesterday afternoon while I was at work. My boss had assigned me to stick labels to a bunch of our microfilm cabinets, so I spent 5 hours sitting at a table in the back of the department, sticking tape on the backs of the labels, and being bored out of my mind. While I was thus engaged, a lady who appeared to be in her late-seventies walked in, wearing the old-genealogy-lady uniform (colored capris, T-shirt from Walmart, and white tennis shoes). Her face wasn't remarkable- it was rather worn-looking, but very soft. What set her apart was her hair. It was dyed a very light yellow-blond and curled and teased into something resembling this 40s style. She had combed it flat over the crown of her head and there was much more scalp than hair visible.
The overall effect was quite grotesque, but it didn't amuse me as I would have expected. Instead I was deeply saddened. Something about that old women and her hair really caught me. Perhaps it was because she was trying so hard to recapture something that is obviously gone forever- she will never be young again, her hair will never again be thick or naturally blond. Suddenly the genealogical records on the shelf next to me seemed completely different, as though all of the people listed in them had been personified in that one woman. Sitting there, bored out of my mind, it really hit me that the same thing will happen to me, to my parents, and to all of the people I love. This 20 year old was suddenly facing the reality of mortality, with even more force and awareness than at my great-grandparents funerals, when the emotion seemed to act as a buffer.
As I sat there thinking (still taping labels), I also realized just how comforting it is to know that, even should I become grotesque and ridiculous with old age, and my already flawed and weak body become flawed and weaker still, I can rely on Christ, who feeds me with his own perfect body and blood. When death comes for me, as it already has for so many, I will not remain as I was but be joined with Christ in Heaven, where I will be given a new and perfected body which will never grow old or bald or require Walmart t-shirts and old-lady shoes.