Last week was my birthday. I got a card from my mother with red roses on it, and a sweet little note inside. I love to get those notes; they lift my heart and my spirits every time. It's just so nice to know there's one person in this world who still loves me, no matter what.
Mother is 89. How could that have come so fast? I ask myself. And how could I not have noticed, for so many of my young years, how incredibly strong, courageous, and beautiful she is? We have never gotten along so well as we do these days. There are a lot of things that we just sort of understand now. In my teens, I would have bet a million dollars that this could never happen, not in a million years. Now of course, I know every teenager feels that, even Mother, back when.
In her note my Mother asked "Do you feel older?" Oddly enough, I don't. And that is a real puzzle to me. I don't feel older though I certainly do look older. I can't complain; I’ve looked younger than my age most of my life. (What a gift that was.) And I’m still strong and capable at work and my life is pretty full, and busy, and fun.
I haven't changed so much on the outside as I have on the inside. I'm so much more aware now. I notice things more. I see God’s beautiful world in deeper, more glorious detail. And the ugly things in it, that we human beings have made ... although I cannot understand them, I try to accept them as part of another soul’s path of learning, and I am very grateful that my soul has chosen a gentler path on which to make my mistakes.
What's different about being older? I’m kinder than when I was young. So many of the things I thought mattered then, now I can see I worried about much more than necessary. Now I can see a clearer perspective of how life works, too. Experience has proved the truth of some of the things Mother used to say to us kids as we were growing up. Like "Cast your bread upon the waters" (and it will return to you multiplied.)
That has proven to be how God’s universe functionally works: What you give into the lifestream is what life will always ultimately return to you. No kindness is ever wasted. Whatever you give, good or bad, doesn't bounce right back to you from that person or place where you gave it, but instead it circles out through the universe of life and returns to you "in like kind." We never really "get away" with anything, and God never "punishes" us; we simply receive our own energy returning to us like a cosmic boomerang. And the accounting books of universal law are exact.
Some amazing things have been happening to me as I’ve grown older and my age has begun to show. For no particular reason, people seem to like me more. Just anybody I meet, even people I pass on the street. Especially babies. And dogs. This is a lovely surprise that I never stop being amazed by. I like this a lot.
One of the changes is that I am more aware of the rapid passing of time. When I was much younger, I never thought about time. It never even crossed my mind. I simply knew that I would always live, forever, and always be just the same me, young and beautiful. Back then I had a very narrow range of vision, and I was oblivious to an awful lot about life. Now I notice it. Now I celebrate it.
I have heard it said "The older we get, the faster time goes" and I can vouch for that. It's true. The sunset and twilight always catch me by surprise. What? Another day almost done? And I haven't done all the things I wanted to get done! Not nearly all. And there is a sadness as I realize that the twenty years or so left to me (if that many; there are no guarantees) will pass in a lightning flash, just as, looking back, the last 20 or 30 seem to have done. Of course, my life could have ended suddenly at any time, but I didn't know that. I believed, as we all do in youth, that I was immortal, and nothing could ever hurt me. (Until it did.)
Probably the biggest change that the years have brought to my life, is the sense of urgency to get up from my lazy comfortable ways and get to work, hard, on all those things I have meant to do some day. This IS someday, and the time may be shorter than I know. It’s time to DO what ever I will do, now. I have been given so many gifts: health, talents, mobility, a clear and creative mind and an active body. If I don't actualize and share these gifts soon, they will pass with me when I go. To have not done what my soul came here to do ... that would be the greatest tragedy.
And so I am trying to do it, as well as I can figure out what it may be. God and God’s universe are helping me, and some of the work is getting done. Help is popping up, just in time, from unexpected sources. And the promises "seek and you shall find; ask and you shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you" have proven to be true and absolute. You don’t have to work so hard to get it; God’s already got it and God is perfectly willing to give you whatever you need.
I'm not sad about being older. My friends and I laugh together. "As long as I can still have fun, I'm fine with it." Many of us have seen some of the worst of life, and so we deliberately choose to turn our sights and thoughts toward the best of it instead. For we know that what we seek, we indeed will find, and what we want to find is the good stuff, definitely. Those of us who are seeking it are finding it, and of course the best feeling in the world is passing it on, spreading it around. (I’m pretty sure that’s why grandchildren were invented.)
And last but not least, the most daunting thing about growing older is the wondering. Wondering about the last great mystery, the hope and the sometimes fragile faith, about facing the ultimate experience: Crossing the border to the new life after this one. That’s the great mystery of which every one of us knows nothing. What will it be? Where? And how will it be?
All we know is that it will be, and some of us are not so sure about that. I don’t believe in Pearly Gates and golden streets and everybody gets wings growing out of our shoulder blades; never did believe that stuff. And I still feel the same way about that picture of "Heaven" as I did when I was a child: Boring. Who wants THAT? No, I think there’s more to it than that. Life on this earth is wonderful. Life after earth must get even better.
But if we knew the future, at any point of our lives, there would no longer be any purpose in living it. If we knew the answer before the question arose, the question would never arise. If we knew our soul’s purpose the minute we arrived, we would just do it like a job (or not) and life would be just a work project instead of the incredible, unimaginable, wondrous adventure that it is.
Paths cross, lives merge, and separate, interwind, or pull apart. Experiences teach, and souls learn, and grow, and all around and through all of this, God’s beautiful green world sparkles and dances and shines and beckons us to come and join the dance. The music changes, the dancers come and go, but the dance goes on. And if we choose, we can keep on dancing forever.