As of late, I’ve been spending my evenings reading “Great Expectations”; one of my all-time favorite novels. Somehow Dickens manages to coerce me from chapter to chapter even as I am stumbling over his bumbling prose. Last night I continued a familiar journey beginning in the 37th chapter of this great novel, knowing from the outset, that the 38th chapter was my desired destination.
As eventide turned towards midnight, the lids of my weary eyes felt as if they were cloaked in the great weight of granite; yet that region of our cerebellum that motivates us beyond exhaustion was ignited as my memories of Miss Havisham’s cry to Pip (found in the 38th chapter), in the perfect Dickens dialogue, hung before my mind’s eye— “Let her call me mad, let her call me mad!”
Not only is “Great Expectations” one of my favorite novels, the 38th chapter of this classic may be my favorite in all the books I have read in my lifetime. Great books have great chapters—an accomplishment that I hope one day to achieve in my own writing. The talented storyteller conveys his story in such a way that we desire to travel to the Next Chapter. The skilled writer recognizes when to insert the chapter break; serving to provide the reader a resting place or, with even greater skill, a launching place.
Book chapters come in many styles. There are the great ones, like the aforementioned 38th chapter of Great Expectations. And there are also the not-so-great chapters. These are typically filled with what move-makers would designate B-roll. There are long chapters and short chapters. There is the first chapter and the last chapter. There are chapters that you will not remember and there are chapters that you will never want to forget. There are the chapters that make you want to move, without pause, onto the Next Chapter. And then there are chapters that you never want to end.
But tonight I am not here to write about books.
When I look back at my life I do not see it measured in years, but instead, as chapters. There have been some good ones and bad ones. There were long chapters and others were so brief I wonder if I was even there when they unrolled. There have been some that I don’t remember and others that I don’t want to remember. 1975, 1982 and 2005 would fall into the murkiness of one of these two categories.
There were chapters that had me begging for the Next Chapter. 2014 tops the list of these. Not because I desired more but because I wanted to slam the cover shut upon it. It was miserably slowed by a nurse with a needle. All I could do was hope it would surely come to a close
There have even been great chapters, although they never seemed to also be a long chapter. And there were those that could called B-roll chapters. With manufactured optimism I try to think of these as learning chapters. But with well-developed pragmatism I know that what they really were… a waste of time.
The last three years of my life, my current chapter, (even with cancerous 2014 sitting near the rise) is probably the greatest chapter that I have ever lived. God is the author of my life and although I don’t always agree with his prose, chapter breaks, or his use of poetic humor, I accept it for what it is. After all, he already knows how this book ends.
On July 26th of 2013, God introduced a new character onto the storyboard called my life, a little baby named Logan James. I have ten grandchildren, each one is a blessing and I love each one with a love I did not know I possessed. But you see, Logan James came into my life during a chapter that needed him the most. And God knew that…and God did that.
This chapter was such that with each passing day I wanted to know more. I wanted the Storyteller to take me by the hand and show me everything. I wanted to know what was next in the life of Logan James. Each night, for three years, I have closed my eyes, wishing for the Next Chapter.
I guess I should have used more care in what I wished for.
The last few weeks have beckoned a new a call to a new chapter. Or as some would say (even when I didn’t want them to), life is always changing, you cannot halt its stride. This new call singing in my ears is not a joyous call, but it is one that I knew was coming. The words were clearly written on the final few pages of this last chapter, I just didn’t want to heed them.
Oh, what a grand chapter this has been. If I could tell my story to Dickens I think he may be jealous. Three years may seem long to the reader, but for me, it was oh so brief. I cannot find the words to describe how this last chapter changed me…but I can tell you this, because I know it better than any other great truth…
I did not want it to end.