I was reviewing some of my past columns this week, not for vanity, but to guard against repetition. Again, we have a tendency to tell the same story many times and need to exercise care.
In the process it was noted that while articles have spoken to various age groups –children, youth, young adults, seniors – there is one group neglected.
This was common to those more in the middle of life, in the general age group of mid-40s to 60.
Tennyson, in his Idylls of the King, tells of a young knight seeking a place at King Arthur’s table. He was told he must conquer four knights. These were the Knight of the Morning Sun, the Knight of the Noonday Sun, the Knight of the Evening Star and the Knight of Death.
Youth has its dangers, there is no doubt about that. When vitality of energy is linked with a lack of mature judgment, there are always dangers. To scan this newspaper will give abundant evidence.
The Knight of the Evening Star also has pitfalls. There is tendency to disparage against today, look backward rather than forward, feel disillusioned about life and its meaning.
But perhaps the most difficult foe is the Knight of the Noonday Sun, and this for several reasons.
This may be true because in middle life many have lost their idealism. It is said that youth grows sentimental and writes poetry, and that old age grows nostalgic and writes poetry, but there is little poetry in middle life, in either the writing of it or the living of it.
The person in middle years is too far from morning to be romantic and too far from evening to be mellow. It is possible to come to the place where high ideals vanish into skepticism, and dreams are replaced by drudgery.
If a person is going to “make it,” he usually has by this time of life. If not, he may despair; if so, he may be disillusioned.
There is a sense which the joy is in the challenge, and the victory in the climb. Many reach their highest ambitions to find they are not what was imagined.
The middle years are also those of greatest self-sufficiency, and often the tendency is to focus on self and material things. With this comes the temptation to ignore commitments and question values.
Where did Solomon, Saul and David go wrong? It was in their battle with the Knight of the Noonday Sun!
In our present culture, note the disruptions of marriages which have existed 20, 30 or more years, and this often in the vain attempt to recapture youth.
In the battle with the Knight of the Noonday Sun several things are important.
First is to recognize perils are there. We are rarely in greater danger than when we feel most secure. In the middle years are physical changes, and often mental unrest, emotional stresses, and spiritual pitfalls. We should acknowledge this, and be on guard.
Second, refuse to fall in love with things. Tragedy does not comes in having possessions but in permitting possessions to be our possessors. What we own is not who we are.
Third, do not permit the passing of years to dampen our view of life’s meaning. There sometimes comes a cynicism which debilitates, a callousness which ignores deeper values and an indifference which stifles.
Habakkuk gave good advice in his prayer to God: “Revive Your word in the midst of our years; in the midst of our years make it known.”
Rev. Dr. Fred Andrea is the pastor of Aiken’s First Baptist Church.