Though we may not always sense it, every young person has a soul that waits for God. The soul is like my aging neighbor who often sits out on his front porch. He doesn’t own a computer. He has no understanding of the technological gadgets that fill the eyes and ears of young people. But he knows the seasons. He knows the black oaks, sugar pines, and fir trees that line our street. He can tell you when winter’s breaking up or when a summer rain is gathering over the horizon. He has wisdom to share for those who take the time to talk with him, and a listening ear for the person whose sorrow has grown too heavy to carry. My aging neighbor knows how to be grateful and he knows how to grieve. It’s not unusual to see his eyes fill with tears over a small gesture of beauty and when he laughs it comes from the center of his chest.
What makes my aging neighbor remarkable is that he is still in touch with his humanity. His capacity for wonder and gratitude hasn’t been diminished or discarded. He knows how to look and see and feel the sights, sounds and activities of our neighborhood. He notices and comments on the little changes people make in their yards. When he sees someone who looks tired or lonely or worn he invites them up to his porch. My neighbor is still in touch with the presence of God in the world, so when a hardship or struggle is shared with him he often responds, “I’ll take it to the Lord in prayer.”
Inside every young man is an older man like my neighbor, witnessing and savoring the sorrows and pleasures of life. And inside every young woman is an older woman, a wise woman, who watches in wonder at the life around her. Sometimes my work as a parent is just to help my kids notice this wise soul within, to trust this soul, to spend time on the soul’s porch—because that’s the place where God is met and trusted.