A Letter From the Past

By Elaine Knudtson

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I wrote myself a letter in 1970 that I found in my closet just last week.  “Live in the moment,” I admonished myself.  “Enjoy one second at a time.”

Does life consist of the seconds?

“I’ve been through an awful lot, but no more than anyone else,” I told myself. “My problems are great, but not insurmountable and my joys are exalted, but they very quickly pass. I am a teenager.”

Foolish, pious young girl.  What did I know about life:

“There is much misery and the threat of death, but these things have a habit of looming so large in our minds that we completely destroy the sensitive place in our hearts reserved for soft, simple things in life.”

I was at the beginning of the race.  Ready to be part of the generation that would change the world.  Lofty goals, high ideals, full of promise.

But last month I retired.  I retired and they deleted me before I was even out the door.

I’m obsolete, the vision of the past, easily replaced, quickly forgotten.

My influence evaporates.

Friends promise reunions, but they are still in the race and the promise will be  forgotten and

“Let’s get together” becomes, “I ought to call her.”

Guilt replaces good intentions.

I’m disconnected.  Just another senior fumbling for change at the check out.

The senior reflects; the teenager hoped:


“I don’t know how it happened, but I found myself walking amongst thorny shrubs.  I was in a patch of wild roses.  Only the month before the bushes had been full of bright pink flowers.  Now the flowers had faded and died.  Only the seeds were left. The seed was shaped like a tiny red apple.  It was homely, without vivid color or the soft curves of the pedals, but no matter how much I wanted that seed to blossom again, it would not.  It would take a cold winter and the warm thawing sun in the spring to bring it into bloom.”  (Elaine, 1970)

Could it be that the seed will bloom again in this new chapter of my life?

The teenager focused on the future; now as the elder, I see it was not the prize at the end that shaped my life, but rather the way I ran the race.

What would I tell my teenage self?


Learn to love those you hate

Honor the humble and the meek

Serve those you lead

Value your weaknesses

Be cautious of your strengths; pride                   weakens you.

You will not change the world; make   sure the world changes you for the better.

“I know the plans I have you for,” declares the Lord.  “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “And will bring you back to the place from which (you began).” Jeremiah 29:11-14



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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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