June 14, 2013 by lellielieb
I said, In the middle of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years. I said, I shall not see the Lord,
the Lord in the land of the living;
I shall look on man no more
among the inhabitants of the world. Isaiah 38:10-11
This is the song of Hezekiah. Isaiah had been sent by God to tell Hezekiah he was dying. Hezekiah prayed and God sent Isaiah back with the news that God had decided to give him fifteen more years. This story is significant to me since, in the year I turned fifty, I was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma. Like Hezekiah, I am living in “over-time.” I have to confess that I am not horribly impressed with Hezekiah’s performance in those extra years. He gives away his countries secrets, and then he doesn’t try to hide the fact that he is relieved to know that the pay back for his lack of wisdom won’t come until after he is gone. I don’t want to live that way.
I’ve been thinking a lot about these “middle days” of life. For one thing, I find myself in the second half of my fifties so I know I am fast approaching the end of the middle. For another, I’ve been reading Dante. He starts out in a similar way to Hezekiah:
“MIdway this life we’re bound upon, I woke to find myself in a dark wood, Where the right road was wholly lost and gone…” Inf i, 1-3 (Sayers)
The middle years can be scary. We find ourselves in the middle of life and life may not have turned out to be exactly what we imagined. I’m thankful for my illness. It forced me to stop and think, to evaluate, to pray, to seek, and to find. Like Dante’s woods, those days for me were dark and frightening, yet I would not skip the journey. I hope it has made a difference. I hope the rest of my days will benefit, along with those around me, from my experience. I love and understand the next few lines of Dante’s:
Ay me! how hard to speak of it–that rude and rough and stubborn forest! the mere breath of memory stirs the old fear in the blood; It is so bitter, it goes nigh to death; Yet there I gained such good, that to convey the tale, I’ll write what else I found therewith.” Inf. i, 4-9
Thank you, Mr. Alighieri for the thoughts, and thank you, Jesus for the lesson and the grace!