How can I be over the hill when I haven’t reached the top yet?

It’s funny that a person grows older in such a way that they suddenly look in the mirror and think, “Who is that old lady and where did she come from?” There doesn’t seem to be any gradual run-up to old; no practice slopes, so to speak. One day, there you are at the top of the hill and the only way to go is down.

Sure, there’s the first grey hair, the first wrinkle, the first creak as you get up out of a chair, but generally speaking, that’s just the thin edge of the wedge. Deep down, you really don’t believe that you’re going to get old – at least not the kind of ‘old’ that your parents reached.

You really believe that you’ll be the one who beat all the odds. The lady who runs marathons until her last gasp; the woman who manages her business until the day she dies; the gal who causes people to gasp in amazement when she admits her true age. “No really – I thought you were much younger than that. Wow!” Yup, we all think that way. Old age is for someone else, not you.

But the sad reality is that for the majority of us, old age is simply a fact of life. It has nothing to do with the number of your birthday or the state of your mind. It has everything to do with an aging body that is now making you pay for all those years when you ignored its complaints. Knees give way, hips break, stomachs rebel, lungs fill up,  eyes film over and various other bits cease to function at all. As someone once said, “If I’d known I was going to get this old, I would have taken better care of myself.”

Now, all those things that you did without thought have become small marathons and even smaller victories. Getting up on a kitchen chair to change the light bulb, pulling out the bed to clean out behind the head board, carrying in three bags of groceries, washing all the windows, mowing the lawn. You know you can’t take anything for granted anymore – just because you used to be able to do it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to do it now.

I have a theory that our bodies age so that our spirits can finally be freed to spend more time in pursuit of God. We can pray more. We can meditate longer. We can seek God in new ways. Our old age becomes our Age of Enlightenment as we step closer to God where  we can hear the ‘still, small voice.’

I guess you could say that as we age, the best is yet to come.





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Thinking like a boy scout…

A couple of weeks ago, we were hit by a surprise overnight storm – winds and rain buffeted our little house and the sound of pine cones and branches hitting the metal roof made us feel like we were in a war zone. In the morning, the decks and yard were littered with a thick carpet of debris. This was a storm that no one had predicted.

This past week, we’ve been assailed by dire warnings and predictions that a series of three storms will come in off the Pacific and pound our little world. High winds and torrential rains were on the menu. Weather forecasters explained that the first storm would be the least powerful, but that the third one would be the tail end of a Superstorm – a typhoon that had crossed the Pacific to find us. One forecaster gravely warned us that this would be as bad as a similar storm that had devastated our area nearly sixty years earlier.

The first storm blew in. Heavy rain pounded the roof, but no wind to speak of. I stopped holding my breath and thanked God for small mercies. I was surprised to see reports of downed trees and power outages in other areas nearby.

A day and a half later, the second storm hit. Again, heavy rain, a little more wind, but nothing of any significance. I was beginning to feel a little cocky, thinking that we must be in some magic area of “no-storm”winds. And again, reports of downed trees, flooding and power outages dominated the local news.

Then, the weather reports turned dire. The first two storms hadn’t been nearly as bad as predicted, but we could be sure that the typhoon-driven storm was going to be a doozy, they said. We should prepare for the worst, they said. This wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, they intoned.

Now, I live in a forest, literally. There are a hundred and sixty little houses scattered on the back side of a mountain, tucked in among towering old-growth spruces, cedars and pines. Thirteen of these gigantic beauties surround my house, with their enormous branches forming a cathedral overhead. I looked up and contemplated one of them falling in the forecasted hurricane force winds. Others around me were having similar thoughts.

I went to the shed and found the camping stove, the water containers, the emergency candles, the flashlights, and the battery radio  – none of which I’d thought about since I moved here from the East two years ago. I dragged them all into the kitchen. I filled the kettle and the bathtub with water (bathtub water meant that a toilet could be flushed), and pulled out the picnic cooler to store frozen items if the power was off for any length of time. I cleared the decks, tucked away everything that looked as if it would blow away, and hunkered down.

The day wore on – all ferries were cancelled. AmTrak was cancelled in the neighbouring state. Highways were closed. Oh my.

Five hours later, they said it was over. Our storm?  Rain, a couple of minor wind gusts, and by early evening, the sky was clear and there was a full moon riding on the branches of my grandfather trees.

So much for being prepared.

Isn’t that always the way? Like our un-forecast storm of a few weeks ago,  sometimes life just smacks us in the face when we least expect it. We’re unprepared and ill-equipped to face the challenge, and all we can do is turn to God and pray.

And then there’s those life events that we know are coming – surgeries, deaths, divorces, bankruptcies. We try to be ready. Like good boy scouts, we’re determined to be prepared for them and so we spend weeks and months “getting ready” to face the worst, only to find it wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d thought it would be.

Maybe there’s something to the verse, “Take no thought for the morrow…”


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