Maybe it’s because I’m getting older (way older!), but I’ve been struck recently by endings.
A few weeks ago, I read the last print issue of Newsweek magazine. Now, I’ve been reading Newsweek faithfully since I was in college in the 60’s. My memories of the assassinations of John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King are tied up not only with Walter Cronkite but also with stories in Newsweek.
I have been enthralled with the new version created by Newsweek’s collaboration with the Daily Beast and was particularly fascinated with the last issue – which I began reading, unfortunately, at about 11 PM and couldn’t put down. It chronicled the history of the magazine, focusing on the culture of “group journalism” that developed at Newsweek. Most Newsweek articles, especially cover stories, were written (usually under a horrific deadline) by an editor who combined input from dozens of reporters all over the world with his or her observations and research and turned out some of the best journalism in history. Our “it’s all about me” culture will probably not see much of group anything again.
And now that print copy that I hurried home each Wednesday to get out of my mailbox and read from cover to cover is no more. Yes, they have created a digital version for Kindles and ipads. But I don’t have either of those devices and probably never will talk myself into purchasing them (although I have gone as far as to add a Kindle to my Amazon cart – and then yank it right back out!). I love the feel and smell and heft of a book or magazine too much and have been conditioned by 65 years of reading them to change – at least now.
I have to admit I shed a few tears when I read the last page of the last issue, knowing that something I valued for decades now no longer exists. And those tears reminded me of the last tears I had shed over something I was reading. That happened when I read the last page of Eugene Peterson’s memoir, Pastor. The tears came because a wonderful, leisurely meandering through the life of one of my favorite writers was over, and I loved the journey so much I didn’t want it to end. But they also flowed because I suddenly recognized that Eugene Peterson, too, is old.
I immediately flashed back to a Renovare Conference in 2009 when Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, Max Lucado, and John Ortberg shared the stage for a delightful panel discussion and I sat among hundreds of people and cried as I wondered if this might be the last time all of these giants of the spiritual formation world would be together. And as I finished Pastor, I wondered if it would be the last Eugene Peterson book I would underline and hi-light and sit back and marvel about as I read.
S0 . . . what’s to be learned from all this? Perhaps to pay attention to the journey while I am on it. Perhaps to recognize that good things come to an end. And perhaps to take the time to reminisce when I feel the loss of something. Looking back on steps already taken can be sweet as well as sad.