catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 12 :: 2011.06.24 — 2011.07.07


Chosen generation

Sometimes I weird out my peers.  And sometimes I feel lonely and alien at the grown-up table.  Yet I’m of a certain age, which a friend and I recently laughed about meaning that, when there’s such a need, I’m “the one who needs to kill the spider.”

I’m a grandmother.  I have grey hair.  I have zero desire to pretend I am younger, to dress like a teenager, to be nipped and tucked (other than what seemed necessary as a concession to cancer), or to fit in with younger friends’ peer groups or activities.  I’m not going to the after-party, most likely, if I go to the party at all.  I know my age, and I like it.  I’m 50.

Yet the traditional generational boundary lines seem irrelevant to me.  I just don’t follow them.  There’s a difference between desperately clinging to the illusion of being part of a younger generation (that’s a pitiful sight) and simply doing life spaciously with whoever ends up in your cohort while enjoying the multiplicity of viewpoints, perspectives and musical playlists that come with that variety pack.

I’m thinking about how the Bible says that God sets the lonely in families, and of all the cool people who have come my way in my faith journey.  I’m thinking about the time when someone interrupted Jesus while he was teaching to tell him that his mother and brothers were outside looking for him, and he said that his true family was made up of those who do God’s will.  

We are born into families with whom we ideally do life ad infinitum and we are born into a peer group, with which are often defined by in the media.  But we also get new families of sons, sisters, godmothers, cousins, crazy uncles (all the usual cast of characters) in God’s family groupings.  To a degree, we choose them; in another way, I think we get assigned. 

So I’m espousing a new way of thinking about “generation.”  If a generation is a loose pack with which we move through life (and with whom we supposedly share a way of looking at the world, cultural references, media habits and experiences and perhaps even values), then could “generation” be defined beyond age boundaries?  Much like the Gentiles were grafted into God’s family tree, spreading the inheritance of chosenness beyond the Jews, I’m envisioning a generational boundary map that’s redrawn to include affinity, common purpose, openness to otherness and surrender to something beyond the obvious.  And then with the lines redrawn, we have a new people group to go through life with, although the boundaries can be amorphous, diaphanous and ever changing.

In my mind, my own generation includes a 10-year-old girl and an 89-year-old man.  It includes open-minded 50-year-olds who’ve taken steps beyond a complacency that often accompanies middle age.  It embraces young parents and unmarried twenty-somethings.  It envelops those of my socioeconomic level.  It includes some who are homeless.  Yes, there’s an “us” to it (at least in my mind), but there’s no room for a sense of “them.”  It’s open and fluid, even as it’s cohesive and comfortable.

I feel like I’m a part of a caravan of purposeful wanderers, typified by risking, trusting, seeking out rainstorms and dancing, while not eschewing the pain of the world or an honest admission of whatever IS.  I pinch myself when I look through a mental Rolodex at the names and faces of these glorious ones with whom I do life.

Even as I claim my hard-earned status as one of the elders of my “generation,” often called on to lead, I am also often called on to learn from my younger teachers.  We are a generation, co-journeyers.

Here’s to a spacious redrawing of generational boundaries. 

your comments

comments powered by Disqus