Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52a (NRSV)
Lewis is 99 years old, and he writes poems. He’s delighted if we put them in the church newsletter, but he doesn’t have a lot of ego about it. He just wants to infect others with the joy that smites him on a regular basis.
He didn’t always write poems. Something happened after he lost his second wife when he was 93. His grief had the opposite effect of what you might expect. To hear others tell it, he went from being a somewhat muted, sober man to the spectacle of smiles I encounter whenever I visit him in his assisted living. He can go from half-slumbering serenity to a gargantuan holler—“Molly, I’m so glad to see you!”—in 5 seconds flat.
Why the personality transplant? It’s a mystery. For one, he kept on falling in love after Ruth and Elizabeth died. Whether that’s the chicken or the egg of his joy, who knows?
But the fact is: people can and do change. In the blink of an eye. And the last trumpet hasn’t even sounded yet. It’s one of the mysteries that keeps me believing in God, in Her steady, assiduous work on our hearts and minds and souls, in grief and after grief.
Lewis had a stroke last month, but survived, and is working hard to recover. He has a good reason to stay alive. He has set himself a task: to write 100 new poems to debut on his 100th birthday.
He turns 100 today, October 30th.
Poem by Lewis B. Perry, Jr. (excerpted)
Where there is love,
There is hope. Where there is hope,
There is faith. Where there is faith,
Love knows its work.
It’s all about love.
Let’s shout it out.
Let’s have a shoutout.
Love is the greatest
Force in the universe.
There you have it.
That’s what I think.
You asked me.
Rev. Molly Baskette is the lead pastor of First Church Berkeley UCC and the author of books about church renewal, parenting, spiritual growth and more. Sign up for her author newsletter or get pre-order information for her brand-new book at mollybaskette.com.