Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In the Shadow of God's Wings by Jaye Lewis

It’s a subject that few people like to talk about. It can generate fear and denial, yet I live with it every day. Growing old. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was a knock-out in a bathing suit? Of course, my bathing suits were never that revealing, but I remember feeling good about my body. I don’t remember how or why my body changed. It just did. One day, I looked into the mirror, and I saw a person who was different than I had hoped to see. It really bothered me. And every time my husband told me that I was lovely or beautiful, I didn’t believe him.

It’s hard, growing old. A dear friend of mine says, “Growing old is not for wimps.” At nearly 63 I am intimately aware that more than two-thirds of my life is behind me, and a short path is before me. So I’ve been thinking about this a lot. What does it all mean, this growing old? To some people it means abandonment. To others it means a loss of productivity. A sense of no longer belonging. Perhaps even a feeling of uselessness.

To the very young, of course, old age will never happen, so many young souls waste the precious youth that God has given them, and one day, when they look in the mirror, someone older, and hopefully wiser will look back at them. In my heart I’m still the barefoot girl on the beach. I’m still the young mother sheltering my children from a stormy night. I’m still the late-blooming lover of my husband. And I’m still clinging to my sight that is failing; yet accepting the road ahead. Each day is a gift, and each breath is precious. Life is not a bathing suit, and happiness is not what once was, but what will be.

I believe that God lights my path. I see His light in every sunset. I hear His laugh in the brilliant flowers of spring. I feel his touch in the night, when my husband’s warm hand gently strokes mine. Many things change as we grow older, we may suffer from the breakdown of our bodies, as we age. Our eyes may grow dim, as mine have. Our bones may ache. Our feet may hurt. Oh there is a host of ills that come to the aged, but that too is not life.

Life takes place in our hearts and our minds. Life is what feeds the soul of those who will not give up, no matter their limitation. Life is a hand to hold in the autumn of your years. Life is the blessing of children, who still love and need you, as time and circumstance brings good-bys that much closer. Life is gathering together every good thing, and letting go of the bad. You may have lost family and friends, as I have. Yet, you still have much to give and receive, if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Life is laughter, smiles, and forgiveness, and when that is impossible, life is simply moving on and letting go.

For me, life is first my relationship with God. I often fail in that. He deserves so much more than I give, but I am trying to be better every day. Life is my love for my husband, and my thankfulness that he still loves me. Life is the joy I feel when I see my daughter’s lives entwined with mine…that first cup of coffee of a morning, when we are all together, wrapped in the warmth of our love and laughter. And often, when I am alone, life is the time I spend with our little dogs, and our great big one, whose soul is, perhaps, the tiniest and most vulnerable of all. All these things are life to me, and I hold them close in my heart.

And finally, I am very much aware of my mortality. I have diabetes, asthma, fibromyalgia, arthritis, neuropathy, and other complications of diabetes. Yet, my blood profile is perfect, thanks to new, almost miracle medications. So, life, for me is with limitations. But my heart loves fiercely, my generosity knows no bounds, except for the limitations of my pocket book. I have suffered from illness for a very long time. I have been face to face with my mortality many times. It’s not as awful as you might believe, this living in the shadow of God’s wings. It can be quite beautiful. It can be the best life of all.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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