“He’s an old hippie and he don’t know what to do. Should he hang on to the old? Should he grab on to the new?” David Bellamy.
My second son bounded down the stairs excited because he had just saved “$3000 dollars” on an engagement ring. I asked, “So how much did it cost?” He replied, “Only $4000 dollars.”
I said, “Son, I know how to save $4000 dollars, because my wedding rings only cost $200.” He replied, “Dad, that’s just hippie talk.” We went on to talk about the cost of the reception and how I had a “potluck” reception at a hall that cost $100. He is right that was hippie talk.
It is interesting how my once heartfelt hippie-ness found an enduring expression after I converted to Christ. My basic Hippie-ness affected my decision whether to join a church community and shaped my religious expression to be personal, intimate, and Charismatic. My notion of Christian community was bounded from the start. It excluded all things old and gave space for only the new. I was not part of a brick and mortar church for many years after committing my life to Christ. I remember those early days fondly. Jesus was the Messiah leading us to a counter-culture that rejected materialism (and authority).
Scripture was not to be interpreted but lived. For me church was all about the people and not about the buildings. My early church experiences found me worshiping in parks and under trees with friends and guitars. My conversion to Christ did not violate my basic beliefs rather it caused those beliefs to flourish. In my youth I rejected the establish church as compromised so I cannot remember ever attributing authority to tradition. And I still resist tradition. I am not clear why something old is better than something new. But at 60, “old” is not as old as it used to be.
Human development has an arc that begins as infants totally dependent on others for survival. As we progress through childhood our dependence lessens and scaffolding designed to protect us is removed. As adulthood arrives and progresses toward Middle Adulthood we are self-sufficient and reorient ourselves to a giving posture as we make way for our children and our society to grow and thrive. But Late Adulthood marks the downward slope of the arc.
In other words, at 60, I am officially “closer to the end than I am the beginning,” words borrowed from my friend Don Garrett. I have incredibly fond memories. Even if those memories are found in “faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases…” and my memories are in bits and pieces I experience nostalgia in unexpected ways. And I experience the present in unexpected ways as well, ways that were completely hidden from view when I turned 40. I am not content to look backward but I embrace a forward glance. I am determined to be spent and not rust.