Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Here, once again, is something I wrote for my book Prayers of an Omega: Facing the Transitions of Aging.  Last Sunday, together with a large number of family members and friends, we celebrated my ninetieth birthday so publishing  the following  seemed appropriate. I patterned these prayer/poems after the structure used by the psalmist in the Bible. The book was published in 1994 when I was seventy. I still agree with what I wrote then.

Even to  your old age and gray hairs I am he,
I am he who will sustain you.
I  have made you and I will carry you:
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isa. 46:4)

Lord God Most High, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. I trust you. I have trusted you these many decades since I walked down the aisle of that little country church. I praise you for more than sixty years of faithfulness.

Don’t let me doubt your love, especially as I age. In my silences I hear the lions of the later years growling at my door. They grow bolder, demanding entry.

Hear my prayer, O Lord. For even as I face the new year, I weary of the lions of discouragement and loneliness daring me to quit trusting you.

The way ahead looks uncertain, Lord. The sand is running through an hourglass with a barrel-sized opening.  Stand by me in this coming year. Don’t let me drift through my final days like a toy boat on a fast-flowing river.

Here I am, Lord, more tired at the end of each day. Pudgy again like a kitten. Graying, wrinkled. That snapshot the kids took of me showed I had jowls­--hideous things. And it will get worse. Dewlaps. Underarm-flaps. Flaps everywhere.

Don’t let me get sick. What if I fell down the stairs and broke a leg? Would anyone miss me? I could rot; who would care? This growing old is not for me, yet I can’t bypass it like I can step over a mud puddle.

You’ve been my hope, my salvation , O God, since the youth group sent me on my way with the words, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”
We began together, Lord.  You said I was your child. I trusted that word. Lord, I return to it again and again.

But when I look around I see older men and women who have subsided into mute, indifferent human beings.  I’m not thinking of those sick with Alzheimer’s or something like that, but those with functioning minds and bodies. They come to church to sit. They go home to sit. They church doesn’t really need them other than to fill pews, to give money, and to bring finger food. Do not cast me away when I am old. Give me again the joy of the Lord.

Though you have made me see my troubles, you will restore my joy.  You have done so in the past. You will do it again. I quiet my soul.  Praise the Lord, amen.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Now I am an Omega

            At various times in life we move to the head of the line because of personal qualifications:  “Johnnie, you are the tallest – you go first.”  “Betty, you’re good a leader – you take charge.”  “Lily, you know how to do this, so show the others.”  

               At other times, we move to the head by default. There's no one else to take on this role.  This September I will be 90 ninety years old – at the head of the Funk branch of the family  by default.  I am the oldest in the Funk clan.

               When my mother died at age nearly 99,  I realized I was now an Omega, approaching the end of the  line.  In my book Prayers of an Omega, I wrote the following to introduce the entire series of prayer-poems about transitions in aging: 

                                                     Now I am an Omega

            God, my everlasting Comforter, we buried Mom today. We laid her in the ground, next to Dad. Now I am Omega, the last in our family.  I’ve moved to the head of the line.

            Now the storms of life can beat directly upon me. No buffer. I used to think of Mother as an umbrella, holding God’s love over us like a shield. She prayed every day for each of us by name—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She used to say that was how she remembered the names.

            Now no one covers all of us with her prayers. I stand alone to pray for my children and myself. And sometimes I forget. My umbrella is gone. And it’s cold and wet in the rain.

            Lord, I’m probably next in line to die.  The generation above me is all gone. Now I have to be strong for the generation below me. I have to be the umbrella.  For my children.  Their children.  And I don’t feel able. I’m not ready to be patient, long-suffering and, and forgiving, as Mother was.

            And I’m afraid of the darkening shadows. Of being an Omega. It was easier being an Alpha, a child, near the beginning.

            Decades ago, driving home late at night we children slumped together in the backseat of the car like four loosely packed sacks of potatoes. Though it was dark and the road was bumpy, we knew we were going to that wonderful place called home. Dad was driving, Mother was watching. We knew we were safe. We would get there.

            Mother and Dad did the best they could to raise us with what understandings of family relationships they had. And daily trusted in God’s grace. They worked out understandings with their own difficult past. And worked hard at bringing us up to become responsible human beings. And kept on praying and loving.

            Now Mother and Dad are both gone. I am an Omega, the last in a series. And I am afraid.

            Yet you, Lord, promise to carry us like a mother eagle that spreads her wings beneath the unsure eaglet testing its flying strength. You promise to bear us should we fall.

            So, Lord, spread your strong arms of love under me and around me and steady my faltering feet. Let me travel hopefully. Carry me, an Omega, by your grace. Lord, I trust you. Amen.