Not Dead Yet, But Charging Ahead More Slowly 9-14-17

Not Dead Yet, But Charging Ahead More Slowly



It is hard to get up much writing-steam when your beloved spouse of 58 years slowly dies of

a disorienting and untreatable brain disease. And my own capacity for charging-on has

been complicated by a heart disorder and the implantation of a heart-stint. Lots of falls and

other misanthropic misfortunes led me in April to move from our spacey cottage in the

Epworth Villa Residential Community in OKC into an apartment in its main building.

Even though Sadie went with me, it has taken me a long time to get settled into a new

habitat without Sarah.


Even with some outstanding psychotherapy, learning how to live without Sarah, how to

mend a broken heart, how to get on with life in my 82nd year, I was limping along into a

different life and style. But at this stage of life, there is little that can be taken for granted

about the future, except the love of God challenging my aging heart to keep beating a path



I assume that you readers are friends and therefore friendly to my confessions of despair as

my dear Sarah was dying a disheartening and unstoppable decline toward death. But just

that slow and insidious decline decimated our—hers and mine—capacity to recall a past

full of love and commitment and mutual adoration. I confess that I was utterly unprepared

for her despair and vagaries of mind and ongoing disappearance.


My own mind and soul became numb and a strange incapacitation gripped me. Sinking as

I was, the deep joy I simply took for granted in our marriage and life-together, blurred into

two numb souls bound together but drifting into darkness. A numb soul inclines

unwittingly toward sadness and loneliness, often called ‘despair’.


Many of my blogging friends are aging as I am. We sometimes fall into such talk as ‘losing

a grip on life’, ‘the slippery slope of forgetfulness of the moment before’, ‘the retreat into

silence’, ‘does prayer really help? Help what or who?’ Why do we suppose that the grief we

feel in the death of loved-ones should pass on quickly and quietly, if we just have faith?


I confess to you that I have become—in these suffering and aging days—spiritually unable

to slouch into much of the church-language about grief, death, loss, and hope. To be sure,

grief, death, and loss are simply and implacably there! Hope for what—fades in and out.


I have written only one blog since Sarah’s death. Perhaps a sadness too deep for words?

Then why these words now? I do have family and friends, at whatever age, who live on and

which stir a deep fondness in me to be there too. How to be hopeful in a way not defeated

by dreary patterns of illness, alienation, and sadness and death.


Yet another word on life today. I confess that the idiocy of the Trump-World has kept me

vacillating between discombobulating rage and a slender but desperate hope for divine

intervention. Are the principalities and powers of divinity going to let us squirm and

squabble until we learn a version of the politics of civility and the defeat of racial and class

induced rage and societal-induced fears? Might we so hope and so act?





Joe R Jones

14901 N Penn Ave, Apt 151

Okla City, OK 73134-5959

Ph. 405-608-2331;   918-781-2819

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Reader Responses

michael enright

responded on 09/15/17

Dr. Jones, as always, your words provide a deep view into life and God and our relationships. My and Mac’s thoughts and prayers go with you on your continuing journey through this uncharted landscape. We too struggle with the new reality of alternative facts and the vilification of politeness and good manners. You and Sarah have special places in our hearts. May God bless us all, and you especially Joe!

Lisa Wynn

responded on 09/15/17

So painfully beautiful.

Dick Hamm

responded on 09/15/17

Joe, you continue in the hearts, thoughts and prayers of all your many friends! You continue to bless us with your deep honesty and courage to be even in the face of unspeakable loss.

Jane Martin

responded on 09/15/17

Joe, it is not surprising that you would still be in mourning following Sarah’s slow and debilitating decline.  John tells me that he would like to have a purpose.  As Mary Anne says, he has a servant’s heart as exemplified in his many volunteer endeavors.  It’s not easy to be in this time of life.  God is still listening to us and cares and is willing through the Spirit to renew us.  I’m counting on it!

Thomas Spear

responded on 09/15/17

Joe, you ol’ Cleveland Bulldog, you just keep on fighting and writing. There are still a number of us that stand ready to challenge you in the arena of ideas. Hang in there.

Barbara S. Boyd

responded on 09/15/17

Joe, I have just completed writing a book about aging. I have titled it: The Wisdom Years: A Guide to Intentional Aging. My book is very positive about the process of slowing moving towards our demise, but it is not written as a “pie in the sky” book…I deal with the difficulties of aging, losing spouses, losing ourselves, etc. But I still hold out that regardless of the quantity of our final years and days, the quality continues to matter. Since life is precious and a God-given gift, we are called to live whatever time we have with intention, passion, compassion and grace. Therefore, your words, though quite poignant and sad, still resonant with the realities of aging. I will likely go back and put a quote from this blog into my book simply because you have said it so well. Thanks for sharing! Blessings as you move through these days of grief and find your own sense of purpose and meaning, even in your 80’s!

Bob Weitzeil

responded on 09/15/17

Glad to see you back on line. I can relate to some of your musings as I recently survived a critical respitory failure and spent 4 weeks in the hospital and another couple of months recovering. I am much better now but far from my old self. I will have to deal with this situation for the rest of my life. At 80, it might not be for long. Lois and I both miss our timesite with you out and the others. We do see Charles and Laurel occasionally. Our hearts go out to you ax you deal with the loss of Sarah. We send you a big hug from both of us.  Love, Bob & Lois


responded on 09/15/17

You obviously had a lot to say and are ready to write—eloquently and with passion. Charging slowly is appropriate for our age, as we need to keep an eye on our feet.  But, do keep writing and sharing because you still have a lot to give.
With love, Larry

J Gerald Janzen

responded on 09/15/17

As it happens Joe, this morning, before reading your blog, I chanced to consult a book by Amos Wilder, NT Professor at Harvard Div School in my day and brother to Thornton.

My eye fell on his quotation of several lines from an eighth century AD Old English Elegy, ‘The Wanderer.’

Who bears it, knows what a bitter companion,
Shoulder to shoulder, sorrow can be,
When friends are no more, . . .
. . . . a heart that is frozen,
Earth’s winsomeness dead. . . .
. . . . . Good man is he that guardeth his faith.
He must never too quickly unburden his breast
Of its sorrow, but eagerly strive for redress . . .

All I can say is, I treasure you, Joe,
as do so many, so many.


James Joyner

responded on 09/16/17

I am many years away from being 82. But,I feel your grief and struggle to find meaning in what God has dealt you. At least you found a great love. I don’t know what that means. As a African American male I face the fear if total annihilation each day. I think this is a fear that my grandfather’s understood, lived with, fought with, and found a way to survive otherwise I would not be here. I can’t give in to despair and neither can you..but I remember Christ asking Father God to spare him..My efficacious prayer in that God lift your heart, mind,a body.

Susan M. Clark

responded on 09/16/17

Dear Joe/Professor/Confessor/Friend,
    When we were young, we thought that people like Romeo and Juliet would just die together, such a tragic but final end; now that we are older, we realize that life can hold even sadder scenarios. . . that those who mourn have to go on, even though a big piece of their hearts is gone.  Then comes the realization that “the living dead” isn’t just a TV show about zombies, it’s a description of those who’ve suffered such loss of a beloved.  All that helps me, Joe, is believing that those on the other side are still present in another dimension that I cannot perceive. . . so that, when I go to bed at night, I speak to them still in my heart and can feel their spiritual presence. 
    Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted; may God bring you peace, Joe.
  In sympathy and friendship, Susan

Todd Moore

responded on 09/16/17

Prayers for you sir. Lori and I think about you and Sarah often. Your words are honest and as always give us pause to thought. Peace to you sir.

Ken Carroll

responded on 11/24/17

I ran across your blog and recent letters and writings by accident, but was pleased to have update on your life and journey.  I did my MTh at Perkins 1973-77, and remember your presence there. Your willingness to engage the left-wing Bultmannians like Van Harvey and Schubert Ogden made things interesting at times. Saddened the news of your deep loss. Sarah was the gracious heart of th Perkins Book Store, and you were so visibly happy together. Reading your letter to your classmates at Yale on 50th reunion gave me great update on your journey since Dallas. I agree with Hauerwas that you are one of the best “unknown” theologians in America, and The Grammar of Faith shows it.  I also read your daughters postings from Union, and see that “acorns do fall close to trees”.as
As someone who put himself through college working for a lawyer, and passed on law school and graduate work in political theory at Tulane to attend seminary, I am glad you pursued theolgy. We are better for it. I am struggling with the politics of narcissism, and am glad you are still holding forth on questions of faith and life.  Thank you and may God bless you in these trying times!