“How does it feel to be at an age when you are losing everything that matters to you?”
That question was asked of me by one of my sons.
Not the easiest question to answer on a day that you find out your grandfather died, but I understand the question.
I often fume about how it feels midlife so quickly turns from incoming tide to outgoing tide more quickly than you ever imagine. Sometimes the sand under my feet is moving in a manner that funks with my inner equilibrium.
C.S. Lewis wrote in Letters to Malcolm:
“Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him?”
I understand those prayers now way more than I ever did in earlier days.
There has been a lot of goodbyes in this season and I know that only increases. But what also increases is the ability to see and hear things you couldn’t before in life, even when your natural sight and hearing lessen.
Life is full of loss but it’s also full of receiving, even from what you lose. All that passes through your hands, head and heart leave you different. I have found that age and faith have a transformative power in life. So much so, one can keep growing even among the battering of winds. It may be a twisted growth but all that bears down on it shapes it in a manner that leaves it more beautiful.
Just as the body enhances or compensates for parts that may be injured or lost, so our soul expands and deepens in such a manner that we grow younger even in our aging.
That renewed youth is very experiential.
-You soften, even as life gets harder in many ways and you feel it more profoundly.
-Your delight in small things amplifies.
-Pleasure becomes more broad and accessible.
-Joy becomes a surprise again instead of pursuit.
-People matter but not in a way that is just utilitarian.
-Memory increases in animating power, like incense, even if accuracy diminishes.
-Silence expands and that can be mournful in many ways but it also enhances one’s ability to truly treasure what is said or heard in a manner that a previous loud life couldn’t.
-Meditation and prayer are no longer an act of survival or duty but a movement of desire from a smaller and calmer life.
-When others leave, the ones who stay become more full of glory.
It may appear that midlife starts to become an undertow but it actually just becomes a more strong tide that can seem to withdraw way more than we want but then comes rushing back in with unforeseen ecstasy and revelation.
The wonder of new marriages.
The birth of grandchildren.
The loss of concern over everyone’s opinions and demands.
The freedom of thought and living that wisdom brings.
The grace of boundaries that purpose, pain, and age bring.
The immovable strength that conviction and time build.
The power of prayer that builds over the years.
The delight of simple things.
The gift of quiet.
The surprises of discovery that slowing down gives.
The freedom of wealth from living responsibly.
Yes, loss is real, but not all the tears are those of sorrow, many are the result of seeing what is most meaningful, true, good and beautiful…like never before.