“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble… A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” – Job 14:1, 5
I’ve tried not to think about this day for a while. Age is just a number they say. But it is a real number. If I don’t say it aloud, maybe it isn’t so. A young delivery man called me “Miss”. Maybe he needs glasses or maybe he’s from the south. Since this is a milestone birthday, it is a good time to stop and evaluate. To reflect. To discern. At this time of life, am I doing those things God desires for me to do? You know – things done and left undone. Is it time to let some things go? If so, which things. What brings me life? What does not?
I did not write a meditation last week because I was leaving for the Daughters of the King Retreat. The retreat is usually a working retreat for me, and although wonderful and fun filled, I didn’t have the time or the space to reflect on these questions. I will probably need to go away for a few days to have that without distractions.
A few old age jokes come to mind. I might as well laugh.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ― Att. Mark Twain
“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” ― Ellen DeGeneres (Love this.)
“When I was a boy the Dead Sea was only sick.” ― George Burns
“When I was born, rocks were still soft.” – My husband
And then, though it is not a joke, this quote from Parker Palmer, “Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” So, there it is. Reflection time calling.
God spoke to me in many ways this week. A birthday week, especially when it’s a mile stone birthday, is a good time to make a sacramental confession. Confession is healing to the soul and I do that here if my confessor comes. This year she did and I heard the words, “You are forgiven.” She gave me a sort of penance. First, she said, “Out of great pain comes great love. You embody this.” I know it is true – that from brokenness comes the gift of love – but I don’t always see it in me. Then she said to look for happy things to do, because she thinks I am depressed. Really?? I wonder what gave her that idea. She reads my writings, maybe that’s it. Or maybe it was the tears. What kind of penance is that, anyway?
Happy things. I think I’ve forgotten how to do happy things. Recently, there has been too many disappointments, too much pain, too much sadness, etc. It wears me out. I already had a lighter feeling, and I started to pay attention. God provided some moments.
One woman said that if I lived closer, she would recruit me for her singing group. I don’t and I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to sing, anyway, but that was fun and encouraging.
One woman said she liked my shoes and they look like dancing shoes. They do. I like them, too.
Our group stopped for lunch on the way home. While waiting for the food, I went to the restroom. The music that was being played, I think, was by Neil Diamond. I have no idea now what song it was but It made me happy. Maybe, I was dancing on the way back to the table, I don’t know, but my eye caught the eye of a young man sitting at a table. He was about 21, I guess, because he was drinking a beer with his meal. I doubt he was much older and he was singing the same song under his breath. As our eyes met, he smiled and nodded his head. I gave him thumbs up. A strange connection happened as we responded to the song. It was spontaneous and delightful.
My birthday week is over, but I still need to take time for discernment and reflection. I will try to pay attention to happy things and seek happy things to do. Are the times of darkness and pain worth it? Yes. They are, but only if I look for the gifts of love and growth that come from them.
In the beginning O God you shaped my soul and set its weave.
You formed my body and gave it breath.
Renew me this day in the image of your love.
O great God, grant me your light.
O great God, grant me your grace.
O great God, grant me your joy this day.
And let me be made pure in the well of your health.
~ Celtic Prayers from Iona – J. Phillip Newell