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Methuselah and Me  

Conversations with a 969 Year Old Man

Some people have happy dreams—others, nightmares.  How to describe this?

I found him outside town perched on a rock at an intersection locally known as Three Corners, named for the three counties that come together on three roads emerging out of a forest.

It’s not like I was staring at him or anything. Okay, maybe a little. How could I not? His body gave the appearance of a distressed pup tent—saggy and poked out in places where fragile bones attempted to prop up his shaky limbs.  His skin cascaded down those limbs like melted candle wax—ancient and drizzled and lumpy. His robe looked more scratchy then comfortable and reminded me of a revolutionary war tent I'd seen.

Just who was this relic?  I wanted to meet him, talk to him.  But how?   Could a guy that old even hear?  Or see?  And if he could, would he even give me the time of day?  Curiosity prevailed.

"Excuse me, Sir.  Have you got a second?” I managed to squeak out.

"Maybe. Maybe not.  At my age, very little is certain."  He chuckled at his own humor in a voice that was equal parts gravel and whisper, and I felt myself exhale. At least the guy could hear.

“Sir, I don’t mean to be forward, but do you mind my asking….um….how old are you?”

“969.”

"Months?" I mumbled (an odd way to tell someone your age, I pondered, doing some quick math).  "That'd make you…about eighty."  But he looked older than that.

“Years,” croaked the old guy, poking a crooked walking stick into the ground below.

“That can’t be.  Nobody ever lived to be 969 years…”

“One has,” he smiled, jabbing a thickly knuckled index into the air—and then at himself.”

“Wait a minute!  You can’t be—you couldn’t possibly be….”

“Methuselah," he half-wheezed half-whispered.  "Name's Methuselah.”

Frankly, he almost looked like he could be 969.  Rather than argue, I decided I’d humor the guy and play along. 

“What’s it like being 969 years old?” I asked.

“Lots of answers, depending on your angle,” his voice graveled.  “What’s yours?”  His eyes pierced mine, his wrinkled brow showing more of a dare than an invitation.

“Okay,” I said, seizing on his dare, still wanting him to prove himself.  “Tell me about your righteous grandson.”  A fake Methuselah would struggle here.  Not this geezer. A smile creased his creases deeper still.

“A good boy, that Noah. A godly one. We live today in tough times.  Killings.  Rape.  Sexual extremism.  Brutal violence.  But Noah—my grandson—he loves the Lord.  Obeys Him fully.  He's the only God follower in his generation,” Methuselah trailed off, looking down.

I was sold. "So—if it's okay to ask—why do you think Noah's the only one in your family to follow God?"

“I’ve puzzled over that question for a century or two, boy.  I suppose only the Lord Himself knows.  Be nice to think some of it was related to good parenting—making God a priority.  Faithful prayers of a grandfather, maybe?” He chuckled. 

“I really can’t say. But one thing I do…”

Abruptly, he grew quiet as his head craned skyward. “I pray for him.  Every morning.  Every day.  Every night. I pray for him.”  Tears pooled as his voice cracked. “I pray for all the kids.  All the grandkids.” 

It was an awkward moment, and it felt like something needed to be said.

“Sounds like you, um….recommend that to others, then?” I mumbled, feeling immediately like Captain Obvious.

“Praying for them?  You bet your life, sonny. At my age, prayer is the only thing I’ve got left. But think about it.  At any age—it’s the best thing.”

With that, I watched him slide down the rock with surprising agility.

“Let me ask you something,” the old guy said, catching me off guard.

“Sure.”

“Do you have children?”

“Yes, I do.  A son and a daughter.”

“Do you pray for them?”

“Well, sure I do,” I answered a tad defensively.

Every morning?”

“Probably not every morning. But….”

“All throughout the day?”

“Not…all throughout the day, no.  I guess I don’t.  But sometimes I…” I was defending myself, grasping for something that wasn't there, and Methuselah knew it.

“But you do pray for them every single night, don't you?"  His intonation sounded more like sadness than questioning. 

There was no point in stating what he already knew.  I sort of expected a verbal lashing or a fiery sermon from the ancient.  It never came. Instead, he grabbed his walking stick and trudged back into the woods. 

How I wished he was back!  I wished I could ask him to pray with me.  Pray for me. Teach me to pray—like Methuselah.

Then I woke up.

Crazy dream?  I suppose.  But Methuselah's words about kids and grandkids still haunt:

“Prayer.  It’s the only thing we’ve got left.”

 

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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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