Perspective Priorities and Age
Dcn. Dale Matson 01-24-10
My late mentor was about fifteen years older than me. He had a longer view and was able to put perspective on experiences we both shared. He had an evenhandedness that sometimes exasperated me. He was a steadying influence who understood and honored the value of process. Part of his valued legacy to me and others was his deep level of self knowledge including his own limitations. He also had a Cancer in remission that he had given to God. Additionally, he knew how to express a detached love for those around him in an egalitarian manner. People mattered deeply to him and I believe he could see Christ in everyone he ever encountered. He had a servant’s heart and this was a developed personal attribute. He had a wisdom about him that could see how decisions were also moral choices. It was not just what we do but how does what we do shape the future?
There were times however when we didn’t connect and as a Psychologist, I understood this to mean that we were at two different life stages. Some things that were important to me were not important to him and some things that were important to him were not important to me. I was still building a professional vitae and needed to prove things to others and myself. For me, it was about the acquisition of credibility, prestige and personal efficacy. In short, although I don’t like to admit it, it was still about me. His class evaluations always said that the most valuable part of the experience was the instructor. For me the most valuable experience was the content. For Dr. Bob, it was about helping others find the best parts of themselves. He was able to see this in others and helped them to find it also. Before his retirement, he chose to reverse our roles and I became his supervisor. It was a gracious surrendering of power and a trusting decision that empowered me. He remained generative even in retirement but at a careful pace. For Bob, there was not a great deal of self examination or self recrimination yet he could make fun of himself in a self deprecating way that reminded me of Ronald Reagan at his best. I still remember my older son and me visiting Bob and his family during the Christmas season. As the family interacted, Bob sat on the edge of the group and said very little. He just had this Cheshire cat grin from ear to ear. He was at a different place than me but now I am at that stage he once occupied. I have taken on a vocation he would have aspired to had he not been Roman Catholic and married.
As I work with those at an earlier stage now, I see how God is involved even in the minutia. They are looking at future projects and I am helping them to see God in the now of the ordinary. When life is slipping away we must take the time to be with Him in the present. There is no time like the present. I believe our current conversations are sacred moments.