As many of you know, I turned 70 this week and a few people asked how I felt about getting old. A curious question because I do not think of myself as old, maybe maturing. I told people, I needed to ponder the question. Here are some of my thoughts that came to mind as I sat looking down the valley from my front porch.
I decided that age is a gift in many ways.
For the most part, I am the person I want to be, but I check that out regularly with God and my spiritual director. My body is not included in that statement! My body with the wrinkles, the grey hair, and the sagging stomach remind me I am not getting younger. Often I am taken aback by that person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my father!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.
I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating a little extra pasta, or for not making my bed all the time, or for buying some silly garden ornament that I really don’t need, but looks nice in the garden. What the heck, I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.
In more recent years, I have seen too many family members and dear friends leave this world far too soon. For some of them before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. The loss of those family members and friends has really hurt, but it puts me in touch with how much meaning they had in my life.
Yes, I get up at 5:30 AM even when I have no need to, early morning is a wonderful part of the day, a great time to read and pray. I sometimes get lost in myself listening to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's and at the same time, if I wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.
I love my winter vacations in warmer climates and despite my belly size I will walk the beach in a swimsuit and will dive into the waves, despite the pitying glances I may receive. They, too, will get old. I know sometimes my brain skips a beat. O’well, some of life is just as well forgotten; I eventually remember the important things.
Sure, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet dies? But broken hearts are what give us strength, understanding, and compassion; all nourished by the Christian community I am surrounded by. If my heart were pristine and sterile, how would I know the joy of being imperfect?
I am blessed by my hair turning gray and to have memories forever etched into my memory bank. Unfortunately, there are far too many folks who have no good memories.
As you get older, it is easier to be positive. I've even earned the right to be wrong.
So, having looked down the valley, from the porch and talking to God for awhile, the answer to the question is , I like being a little more mature, it is freeing. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, who is. I will not waste time worrying about what could have been or about what will be.
I pray my friendship with Jesus, the Eucharist, my God and my friends and relatives will never come apart especially when they are so deeply in my heart!
May you and I always have a rainbow of love in your heart and on your face!
Let us continue to pray and sacrifice for peace in our world!
In peace and courage,