“Nouns are leaving me at an alarming rate.”
I laughed out loud when I read this; it perfectly sums up only one of the telltale signs of aging that I am experiencing. Sometimes, a change comes on suddenly, like the 40-something experience of seeing blurry text today where, just yesterday, the typeface was crisp and clear.
Typically, though, the signs of aging are much more subtle and reveal themselves rather stealthily over time: an ache or pain in a joint that decides to stay a while; losing items I had, literally, just one minute ago; mysterious digestive issues (which shall remain nameless,) or skin rashes that appear for no apparent reason. I’ve been known to say, ‘Had I known how good I felt in my 30’s, I would have appreciated those years more.’ But, now that I’m 60-something, I’m not so sure about that.
Hindsight can be so illuminating. I’m now convinced that there are lessons that just can’t be learned or appreciated without looking back through the lens of what Richard Rohr* calls “the second half of life:” – less doing, more becoming; fewer rules; blurrier boundaries, less of self, more surrender. So, when I needed toe surgery, I was grateful for all the years of dancing that my feet had provided; my slowly deteriorating eyes are giving me a new appreciation for the beauty of autumn; and frustration with perplexing insurance forms makes me thankful for certain lawyers I used to tell jokes on.
Now, when I’m tempted to worry about unpredictable, aging “surprises,” I’m reminded that each morning is full of new mercies (Lamentations 3: 22-23). I strive to focus on today, because tomorrow will bring plenty of new surprises (and blessings! – Matt: 6:34). And I remember that I must listen for that still, small voice that reminds me, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10). He sees what’s coming and He has my back.
This morning? I’m thankful for, in no particular order, low gas prices, the first snow, seeing friends we haven’t seen in two years, and lace handkerchiefs. There are ‘big” things, too, but I like to start simple until I’ve had my first cup of coffee!
Here is a prayer for you by one of my favorite authors, Susie Larson
May you wrap your arms around the ones you love, look them in the eyes, and tell them how much you treasure them. May you look around, take notice and give thanks for all the blessings you’d miss if they went away tomorrow. When you’re tempted to indulge in melancholy or discontentment, may you instead jump up, raise your hands, and thank God for His daily and divine intervention in your life. May your humble gratitude give you keen spiritual insight. Have a thoughtful, restful weekend.
*Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr