First Presbyterian Church of MetuchenClick here for more information


Pastor's Peace - November Issue

by Rev. Dr. Fred G. Garry on October 30, 2021

Sunday afternoon I stopped by the Social Center to have a piece of cake and offer Doris Moskal congratulations on turning 100. There was singing and well wishing. Doris worked the room like a champ. In the end, we spoke about pets and birds.

The day before, Saturday afternoon, our granddaughter, Nadia, came for a visit. It was time to celebrate her birth as well. It was her first birthday. She too worked the room; her work was looking for places to climb or to relocate items to the floor. Here, too, there was cake and singing. Other than decades between, the only other difference between them was that Nadia was able to wear as well as eat her cake.

I found myself wondering over each of their lives. With Doris I was wondering backwards. She was born the year after the Spanish Flu, would have been a teenager during WWII, and perhaps, able to remember the world before the automobile became omnipresent. If I asked her, I am sure she could recount the first time she watched a television or where she was when she watched the moon landing. Polio was such a defining part of life in her early years until it wasn’t.

With Nadia, I wondered, what will be her markers? So much of the future looks ominous right now. Global warming, political strife, technological intrusions and what some are calling the first of many pandemics. But if I look back on Doris’ first ten years there was the great flood of the Mississippi, the stock market crash, and the dust bowl, all of these coming on the heels of the First World War.

The larger events of a generation, or a decade even, can cause concern. What does it mean to be alive at a time like this? How do the cataclysmic events shape us and influence us? I believe they do. We do not live in a vacuum. Yet, for the most part, the larger forces of a century seem to happen around us, above us, even.

When I try to imagine Nadia’s life forward or Doris’ life looking back, I am reminded of a poem of Emily Dickinson. She spoke of heaven as “a small town.” What I took from her words was this: the splendor of life is not seen most keenly in the big moments, nor is a lifetime determined by forces and cataclysmic events. We find the kingdom of God in the ordinary, the beauty “no man drew.”

Were we to remember this, now, in the midst of these times, remember the beauty to be found in “still” fields and “gossamer”, perhaps the weight of worry would be less for us. The weariness I hear so often might find rest or strength by walking such a small town as this. So much fear and distrust can be lost in “eider names”—to call upon beauty.

Previous Page