“Old Friends”

Old friends, old friends,
Sat on their parkbench like bookends
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
of the high shoes of the old friends.

Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends.

Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy.

Old friends, memory brushes the same years,
Silently sharing the same fears.
(Simon and Garfunkel, “Old Friends,” from Bookends)

The first time I heard “Old Friends” was the day that I spent my hard-earned grass-mowing money to buy Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends album (for those of you who do not know what an album is, it contained music and looked somewhat like a compact disc) in 1968. I have since down-loaded it to my Ipod and “reconnected” with it. It is so different now, than it was when I first heard it. Then, as an eighth grader, I identified with the phrase, “Can you imagine us years from today, Sharing a parkbench quietly? How terribly strange to be seventy.” Now, at fifty-six, I am closer to the “round toes of the high shoes” than “feeling strange to be seventy.”

I have pretty much come to grips with the fact that if the Lord chooses to bless me by allowing me to grow to be “old and full of days,” I only have another thirty years or so before I go the “way of all men.” But, I also realize, that it is possible that “my day” could come much sooner, as not a few of my high school classmates have discovered.

However, in all of those years I have found something that remains constant: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) I am still trusting in the same Lord at fifty-six that I was at fourteen, not so much because I have held on to Him, but because He has held on to me. The same God who justified me by His grace so many years ago will make sure that I will certainly “persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”

So I don’t fear the “round toes of the high shoes” or “being lost in [my] overcoat,” and I don’t really plan to “wait for the sunset,” but I will, by His grace, “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

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1 Comment

  1. Sandra A. said,

    April 15, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Amen, brother!! Just turned 57 and it is a great age. Hurry up and catch up, you hear?!


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