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The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully

Mystery is what happens to us when we allow life to evolve rather than having to make it happen all the time. It is the strange knock at the door, the sudden sight of an unceremoniously blooming flower, an afternoon in the yard, a day of riding the midtown bus. Just to see. Just to notice. Just to be there.

There is something holy-making about simply presuming that what happens to us in any given day is sent to awaken our souls to something new: another smell, a different taste, a moment when we allow ourselves to lock eyes with a stranger, to smile a bit, to nod our heads in greeting. Who knows? Maybe one of those things will open us to the refreshing memory of pain, a poignant reminder of glory, a breathless moment of astonishment, a sense of the presence of God in life.

The sunlight brings back in new shades of color the meaning of a moment long ago. Astonishment shakes us into conscious awareness of things long seen, but long unseen as well. Those things are of the essence of mystery.

There is purpose to mystery in a cool-calculated world. We live lives that are so precisely timed now. Before people owned watches, dawn and dark were enough of a frame to live by. “I’ll come tomorrow” meant I will be there when I get there tomorrow. Now, “I’ll come tomorrow” only means when, precisely: by the minute, to the moment. No mystery there. Just expectation.

So, mystery, the notion that something wonderful can happen at any time if we will only allow space for it, takes us into a whole new awareness of the immanence of God in time. God comes, we learn now, when we least expect it. Maybe most likely of all when we least expect it.

In age, mystery comes alive. Nothing is very sure anymore. Everything speaks of maybe and perhaps, might and possibly. I might still be here. And I might not. Like children, we learn to wonder again. We learn that getting up every day can be fun, can be wonder-full. Something will surely happen. What will it be?

Then, as the years go by, we learn to trust the goodness of time, the glorious cornucopia of life called God. And who knows? At the end of life, the mystery waiting for us there, finally visible under the glare of time, may be more than the soul can hold.