Aging isn’t pretty. Watching it happen takes courage, faith and humor. I’ve been watching the aging process for years.
My body has shifted southward starting with my eyelids which have become hurricane shutters for my eyes. What used to be cheeks have slithered down to the jowls of a basset hound, although I am grateful that I have yet to start drooling. My breasts reside at waist level, and my arms flap when I walk. I tell my grandsons they are Nana’s angel wings and while the two year old believes me; the 10 year old’s just not buying it anymore. My skin in general has a crepe paper quality and I cannot afford the quantity of creams, lotions and potions needed to resolve the entire issue and I can’t decide which part of my body needs fixing the most. Urinary flow is slow, but output is every half hour. I have worn out my hips and watched my eyesight fade. An orchard of cysts, lumps, and bumps I grow prolifically, but my hair is on strike, turned white, and refuses to grow – except where I don’t want it to.
Watching my body in action is both frightening and fascinating all at the same time – and we’re not talking about my limbs in motion. You wonder how it happened so fast. But then you begin to recall the journey. Ahhh, the journey. You got some bruises, you lost some parts, but along the way of the loose skin, the lumps and bumps you also gained some things. Time has given way to wisdom and discernment. Knowledge is cultivated and shared. The need to look forever young or own the most toys loses its charm when you realize it hasn’t brought you happiness. The happiness achieved is found through the desire to make a difference in another’s life. Competition is of no interest and is replaced with the desire to encourage others to grow in spirit. We realize that we have grown more from our failings than from our successes and embrace life’s disappointments with grace. You realize you can either succumb to the world’s false narrative of perfection and be depressed or learn to appreciate what you have learned, who you have loved, and turn the laments into laughter as the foibles come your way.
There is an acceptance that life is not about what or how much you can control, but rather the knowledge that your life on earth is a temporary passage to an even greater life. This aging process allows us to see the beauty, the gifts and gains that God has given to us; making our loss of hair, vision, etc. not nearly as important. And as your body moves south or begins to fail, you begin to work on what you will carry into eternity. – your soul.
While aging may not be considered pretty by today’s standard for beauty; I find myself seeing the aging process through ‘new eyes’. I see the elderly couple that walks hand and hand as they go the theater and I see beauty. The deep lines and creases in a weathered tan skin of a man who has worked a lifetime in the elements show the diligence, the work ethic, the perseverance that makes him look handsome. The now gnarled and arthritic hands of a grandmother as she holds her grandchild show the 40 years she spent caring for countless patients as a nurse. The beauty is in the living and the scars; the sags and bags are the badges of honor of a life well lived.
While we know not when the next life will take place, we are assured that we will travel to where we are to be free of the aches and pains; carrying only a soul full of gratitude and heart filled with love.
The trick is not to dwell on what is but what will be. Christ filled eternity.