When I was a little girl, one of my favorite afternoon programs on television was House Party , hosted by television icon, Art Linkletter. I would watch and wait with anticipation for that one segment that kept me tuning in all through the long summer months.
It came near the end of the program and featured four young school children, seated on child-sized chairs elevated on a platform. The host, Mr. Linkletter himself, would interview the children one-by-one and ply from them honest, humorous, often unexpected answers laced with wisdom.
This popular segment of his program led to his best-selling book, Kids Saythe Darndest Things, illustrated by Charles Schultz and printed well over 50 years ago.
Last evening as I sung “goodnight songs” to my four year old granddaughter, I had an “Art Linkletter” moment.
Between songs comprised mostly of Christmas Carols and spirituals, Julia picked up my hand and began to look at it intently.
“Grandma,” she said, “why does your hand look so old?”
“Well, Julia, ” I replied, “it’s because Grammy has lived a lot of years, and that’s what happens to hands when they get old.”
“Oh,” she said as she raised her own into the air and placed it beside mine. “My hand doesn’t look like that.”
“No it doesn’t,” I said. “That’s because you are still a little girl.”
“But I’m older than last year.”
“Yes. But not as old as Grammy. When I was your age, my hand looked just like yours — perfect — with little dimples in it just where yours are.”
“I didn’t know you then,” said Julia seriously.
“No, you didn’t, sweet lady. Not even your mother knew me then,” I replied with a smile.
“Grandma, what makes hands get old.”
“Oh, Julia. Time — and the things of life,” I said. “See these wrinkles, honey? They are badges of honor in some ways. They show a life well-lived and a life hopefully lived well.”
“I don’t want perfect hands. I want hands just like yours.”
With that, she turned on her side. Snuggled up close, and in another song or two, was sound asleep.
As I went to bed and had my time of daily reflection and prayer, I pondered that conversation with my granddaughter. How had I lived my life? Was it well-lived and lived well? Where had I made progress and where had I not? How could I cooperate with grace and bring into conformity to God those areas of my being that still lingered outside of His holy and perfect will?
Though our hands grow old, and the rest of our body as well, our soul, which is immortal, doesn’t age like our bodies do. Our soul doesn’t grow “old.” It is meant, however, to deepen and mature– with knowledge of God, with love of God, with service to God.
Like the wrinkles that begin to make a steady and deepening crease into the flesh that covers us, so too is God’s life meant to mark our soul with an ever deepening imprint, a seal that not only identifies us as His, but also identifies Him in us.
Though wrinkles and age spots can be “badges of honor” in this life, in the end there is only one badge of honor that will matter at all. That is a life truly well lived and lived well. A life that is imprinted and sealed with the Divine Life. A life that, in quiet and humble ways, in ordinary and extraordinary ways, gives witness to the reality that Christ is alive in us.
It is this badge of honor we should strive to bring to the moment of judgment that will greet each one of us. Then will we, through our Savior in us, merit the words of the Father, “Well done my good and faithful servant….come into your master’s joy (Matthew 25:21, Luke 19:17).”
Thank you, Julia, for letting God use you to remind your Grammy of the one and only reality that matters in this life.