May 20, 2014 § 2 Comments
Oh! We’re all puffs of air. Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire. Oh! we’re just spit in the wind. We make our pile, and then we leave it. What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that’s what I’m doing–hoping …” (Psalm 39:5-7 The Message).
Today is our grandson’s 14th birthday and his eight grade graduation. Wasn’t it just the other day that his father carried him out of the birthing room for the inspection of two eager pairs of grandparents? He was a blond toddler when he came to live next to us so he grew up imperceptibly before our eyes in daily increments. And then one day almost two years ago he and his older sister and his mother and dad moved to the middle of the country to the extremes of temperature in Tornado Alley. And now he’s a young man, taller than his mother and ready for high school.
And what happens to his grandparents in the intervening years since his birth? We grow older in daily increments, and not so imperceptibly. We see old friends and recognize the quick appraising glances we give each other: how did we all get so old?
“Puffs of air.
Does that mean we’re like ethereal gusts, short-lived, entertaining while they’re moving, but not destined to stay around? I think it does.
“Shadows in a campfire.”
I’ve seen a lot of campfires in my 18 years of sitting around nightly smoky campfires at a wilderness camp ministry. Everyone is drawn to fire, sees something different in it, is fascinated by the glowing embers as they burn down. But they eventually burn down and the fire goes out.
“Spit in the wind.”
Not an elegant word picture. Spit in the wind doesn’t go far and can’t decide where it goes. It just has its moment in time and then is gone.
“We make our pile and then we leave it.”
Or not. The accumulations that we leave behind better be more than dishes nobody wants and oddments that get relegated to an estate sale. (A little money would be nice, the kids say sotto voice.)
Do I sound depressed? I’m not, not at all. I’m just measuring my days, looking back and looking ahead. It’s the last line of this psalm of David that tells the real story.
Our lives are more than a puff of air, a campfire shadow, accumulating and leaving. There’s hope! Hope for the discoveries ahead, for the joys yet to come. Hope reassures me God has planned amazing things for our real lives to come in our true home. No more fleeting puffs of air, or campfire shadows but life, eternal life.
“My hope is in you,” the New King James Version of verse 7 says. And that grasp of a living hope in God is what I want to leave my children and grandchildren.
© Inger Logelin 2014
September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment
Just like the leafy aster that blooms as summer ends, mature travelers blossom when the kids go back to school. These determined travelers hit the road in whatever conveyance is at hand, assured of more space in campgrounds when families have gone back to their fall routines. On a recent trip around Washington’s Olympic National Park we joined these hardy campers in their exploration.
At the Heart O’ the Hills national forest campground on the way up to Hurricane Ridge we camped next to an elderly couple in a small camping van. A screened attachment gave them extra space in an outdoor room. The man was handicapped and used canes to move a few feet. His wife, who seemed to have left her upper plate home when she went on vacation, cheerfully looked after their aged dog that was moving as slowly as the man, and hauled her dishes to the single cold water pump to be washed before hauling out her e-reader. She was overheard saying, ” … I’m almost finished with this book and then you can have it.” The neighbors on the other side, about our age, slept in the back of their truck, and looked like experienced campers. The man stripped to the waist and washed up standing by his picnic table in the slanted sunlight struggling through the old growth forest.
Our next stop at the national forest service campground at Sol Duc Hotsprings introduced us to a former park ranger who was revisiting where he worked for years. He had met his wife at the campground, loved the rain forest and trails and was full of recommendations for even more remote places to camp. He now used a cane for walking stability and traveled in comfort with a gleaming trailer. Then there were the Russians, a large extended family group who had erected four tents, cheerfully spread their food and supplies out, and sat around a smoky fire when they weren’t in the mineral pools at the resort next door. Grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, children and babies, they enjoyed each others’ company and soaked cheerfully for hours chattering away. We soaked to our necks among an eclectic mixture of young and old, Russians and Ukrainians, Canadians and Japanese. At times it felt like an eastern European destination resort on the Black Sea.
At Kalaloch on the Pacific we arrived on the first week it was possible to get a spot without a reservation as after September 5th it’s first come, first served. Young families and couples tented and huddled around fires to ward off the damp ocean fog. Older ones arrived in rigs that barely fit the cramped sites. When the sun came out elderly and young alike tramped the beaches. At Ruby Beach just north of the campground groups of traveling seniors helped each other across a driftwood bridge spanning a river. One woman said to me as I extended a hand, “My balance isn’t what it used to be.” I reached out my hand to Dave and said, “Mine either.” But, we were there, experiencing, walking, exploring, enjoying. Some couples brought hot drinks in thermoses and enjoyed a morning “mug up” before the rising tide forced their return across the driftwood bridge.
Sunsets in the mist and the midst were enjoyed by groups of two or three. A solo traveler, a woman about my age, said she had gotten out to the beach at 4 a.m. to see an incredible harvest moon set. We joined mature travelers on the trails, in the campgrounds, on the road. Leafy aster travelers, a sure sign of fall. The summers of our days are over, but the fall and approaching winter can be days of discovery, beauty and fulfillment. “Our times are in His hands.”
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011
May 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
May 26, 2011 § 2 Comments
A currently running commercial urges seniors to think young. I say, we earned it, let’s think old.
Characteristics of old thinking:
- Why exercise when you can park right in front of where you want to go?
- What’s better than one recliner? Two!
- Discovery of the multi-uses of zip-lock bags at a buffet.
- Perfect your intonation on, “Will you get that for me, please?”
- Senior discounts rule. Some start as early as 55. Make it your business to know.
- Using your age as an excuse for what you don’t want to do. “I’m not able to do that anymore … sorry.”
- Why pay full price when there’s perfectly good thrift stores around?
- Regift, regift, regift, but keep track of who gave that gem to you.
- Outwit, outlast, outsmart.
Oops, did I just say all of that out loud? I must be getting old.
May 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
When I started writing Grace to Gray my hope was to start a dialogue about aging. About accepting, not denying, the changes and realities of what comes along with getting older. And learning to deal with it. I’m interested in an examined life, a fulfilling life, not just mindlessly passing my days.
We’ve all seen people who deny their age: refuse to accept the senior discount in restaurants and on the ferries as if it were a personal affront to suggest they might be 65! They keep their age a closely guarded secret and deny limitations. Who shop in Forever 21 as if that will somehow stop the aging process.
And others who use age as an excuse to give in to laziness. Who just plain give up, in essence saying, “I’m old. I can’t do that anymore.” Who buy matching recliners with cup holders and settle in to a permanent home in front of the TV.
I may have another thirty-five years on this planet … God only knows. Finding grace to live out my allotted days fully and meaningfully is the task at hand. Thirty-five years sounds like a long time. But, it will have an end. Haven’t gotten there yet, but I can see it from here.
I need grace. “Unmerited favor, approval, a virtue coming from God,” are some definitions of this many-faceted word.
A snatch of poetry that runs through my mind every new year is: “The open door of another year I’ve entered by grace divine.”
The open door of the winter of my seasons is before me and I’m peeking through it … looking around at its wondrous and brilliant landscapes … and seeing myself there.
By the grace of God.
Where in your life do you need grace?
May 13, 2011 § 4 Comments
You’re never too old to learn. So, I’m reading How We Age: a Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old by Marc E. Agronin, M.D.
Dr. Agronin says: “As with the actual process of aging, we can easily miss the hidden strengths that guide and balance a person’s life. Memory slows down, but knowledge and wisdom increase. The loosening of certain neural connections in the brain may enhance creativity. And the failing of physical strength may prompt the need for greater intimacy and companionship with others. Within each problem lies a solution that enables further development.”
Dr. Agronin calls aging a “gift that can be shared across generations.” I think he is referring to the connections and wisdom we develop as we grow older. We connect what is happening to us now with what we have experienced before. And try to make sense of it, and hopefully pass it on.We joke about aging, but do we see it as a gift? Perhaps the gift is passing on the wisdom gleaned through hardship, grief, love and joy.
We derive meaning and purpose from scanning the “big picture” of our lives, and passing along that wisdom. The Bible says, “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” Psalm 90:12 (NKJV). It’s a good time to strengthen our connection to God, and recognize his hand in the connections of our lives. The connections with our friends, many who have spanned a lifetime of experiences with us, take on increased importance.
I’m in the connecting phase now, organizing and documenting the bits of my life. I’m researching the youth of my parents through their writings, and documents. I’m sorting pictures and thinking about what I want to pass on to my children.
And could it be that the reason for the multitudes of older people on Facebook and Twitter, and all the other social media, is that we want to connect, make sense of our personal histories and enrich our lives through meaningful relationships?