“I know better by now than to try to
predict what is to come. But of all of the stages of my life – Goforth, Squires
Landing, The Good Shepherd; Pigeonville, Lexington, Port William – this one
here on the riverbank bids fair to be the last. Unless of course I fall and
break something or become an emergency of some other kind, and give up the
ghost finally in front of the institutional TV set down at Hargrave. Who knows?”[1]
Chapter 27 of Wendell Berry’s Jayber
tells the story of Jayber moving from his life as the village barber
to taking up residence in a “little camp house” along the river. From his “public
life” to the commencement of “a private one.” As he moves, he reminisces about
his life and its stages by referring to the places he had lived.
It got me thinking about the stages of my
own life and the places I have lived. I wrote a list of all the places I could
remember that I had lived. It wasn’t a long list and it was a good exercise for
me. It occurred to me that the stages of my life did not always change with the
location in which I lived. Sometimes it was just a move. Other times it was a paradigm
shift in my way of life. I am a farmer’s son who helped with many a carpentry,
mechanical, or veterinary task. I am the science nerd who created experiments
to diagnose genetic disorders using the latest DNA technologies in a clinical
laboratory. I have lived in one of the most densely populated portions of
Vancouver and I have lived where there was a full section of land between us
and our neighbours. I am a son, a husband, a father, and a grandfather. I am a
pastor, church planter, teacher, and
administrator. I am the generalist who knows something about many topics. I
have spent time regretting that I have not learned enough in one specific area
and I have rejoiced in the fact that God has given me a good mind with which to
understand the world. I have spoken with people who were at the top of their
field of science, philosophy, education, theology, entertainment, and financial
investment. I have spoken with people who suffered abuse and who went on to
harm others and spend a good portion of their life in prison. I have seen
people healed of their diseases and I have watched friends die at a young age.
Much like the character of Jayber Crow, I
would say that “Some of the changes in my life were imposed, and some were
chosen. . . And each change has been a birth, each having taken me to a new
life from which I could not go back.”[2]
I have often wondered what would have happened if there were other impositions
or other choices along the way. “But of course I have no answer.”[3]

Works Cited:

Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow.
Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2000.

[1] Berry, Wendell, Jayber Crow,
p. 299.
[2] Berry, Wendell, Jayber Crow,
p. 299.
[3] Berry, Wendell, Jayber Crow,
p. 299.

Dive in!

Join The Great Journey with KeithShields.ca subscribers, and see new posts as they happen.

We promise we’ll never spam.