The Way of All Flesh

My fourth novel is now ready for publication and is totally unlike the previous three. This book is a farce set in an enchanted retirement community, called Carolina Woods. I have described the community as a blend of Dante’s Inferno and Greek mythology’s Hades, as people fully become what they were all along, but generally hid from public view. Their fully realized personae are both mirthful and tragic. Writing the book was both a way of coping with the second Covid lockdown as well as dealing with my own aging. I am writing this in the wake of my youngest first-cousin’s death–he leaves a wife and two teenaged children. He also leaves a positive legacy as a man, husband and father. He was far too young to die, but then death nearly always comes as an inconvenience.

The trick to dealing with death is first, to accept that we all I have to die–yes, you too! And second, to live one’s life well and fully in the face of one’s mortality. There, that’s my summary of 69 years’ existence and 40+ years as an ordained minister. A third strategy–if you need one–is to befriend each stage of life. I have a progressive-degenerative disease which has reduced my life considerably, but this is my reality. There are no brakes; and kicking and screaming will not help one iota.

As an early 30-something pastor, I remember an old codger who used to stop by the church office about every 2-3 weeks. As soon as he was spotted, the secretaries would literally run and hide in the loos. He was an unhappy man and gladly shared his misery with all and sundry. I remember remarking to a church volunteer one day that I hoped never to become such a miserable old fart as he. I have never forgotten her reply: “Jack, you don’t suddenly become like that at a certain age; it takes a lifetime of practice. You have nothing to fear.”

As a writer I would be remiss not to urge you to buy and read The Woods when it appears later this year. I hope it makes you laugh out loud, but I also hope it gives you pause to consider who you are and how/if you are becoming the person you want to be. After all, we are all in the process of becoming forever what we are freely choosing and loving most right now.

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