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A time to be old (01/16/2011)
By Janet Lewis Burns
As I took down Christmas decorations this new year, affectionately noting each one as unique and special, wrapping them carefully for future Holidays, and returning each to its labeled bag or box, an eerie feeling swept through me – one of melancholy at the realization that we’re growing old, and that our Christmas’ are numbered. The ambience of the season lingers, as scents of pine, potpourri, and cinnamon arise from cardboard storage places.

The happy memories and cheerful moments of yet another family gathering make a person pause to think...of futures, distant, and maybe quite near, when we, Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma, might be put away with affection. The wooden wall hanging I always place in the entryway, that says “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” brings a tear to my eye. I guess because it’s so true, and so disturbing that the holy season of Advent is exploited more and more by materialistic motivations.

But getting old is not all about sadness and gloom and doom, just as the celebration of Christ’s coming into the world as mankind’s Savior is all greed and commercial hype. What is in our hearts – that’s the true message. There’s a season for all things, the Bible tells us, “A time to live – and a time to die.” “A time for laughter – a time for tears.”

As our elderly minds, in slow motion, reflect on the seasons of life spent so far, we might not be so hard on who we’ve become. Following the rigors of raising children into adulthood, and hectic, demanding careers, the transition to a slow- paced, more tranquil schedule can ease daily routine to a contented crawl. Minds shifted down to slow motion can draw individuals out of their elderly doldrums.

Aged bodies/new thoughts! For some, a spurt of renewed energy draws the senior citizen into a refreshing adventure, the desire to make their way to something they’d always dreamed of pursuing, or to rediscover simple things life has always offered to anyone who might seek them out.

Often, senses turn to simplicities one hadn’t taken the time for in many years – an isolated, gravel road between swaying country fields, a day on a quiet lake with a fishing rod and man’s (or woman’s) best friend, snow shoeing along a winter’s trail into a crisp-scented, twilight-colored horizon, an autumn campfire’s glow reflected on faces of comrades from out of the past.

From season to season, are we ever really satisfied? Just as Buddhists believe that suffering is the human condition, one could say the same about yearnings for things beyond reality’s grasp. Children can’t wait to be teen-agers, newly married couples are anxious to start a family. Adults become excited to be grandparents, again, and again, and again! We are always looking to the next gift, the ultimate thrill, that unforgettable moment, a relationship made in heaven, and, as the song goes, lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.

As years drop away, and stressful business relationships melt into yesterday, a private alcove, where you can breathe your own air, in your own space, finally becomes a delightful reality. Most of us, fortunate enough, take flight with our grandchildren for one-on-one experiences, only to discover awesome joy and to form a bond one regrets had not been realized with one’s own offspring (for lack of time, patience, and wisdom to seek it.)

Lapses of time carry us from season to season, until the twilight of our soul is all there is. Just me and my shadow...at peace with my time to be old!

Don’t count the years; count the blessings!

Janet Burns welcomes correspondences. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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