Here we are, a day away from the first “ber” month of the year. We can expect to hear Christmas songs at dawn’s early light. I don’t know about you, but this has always annoyed me. I think, “It’s only September, for goodness’ sake. Can’t you wait?” But perhaps it won’t get on my nerves this time around. I think we can all use some “merrymaking,” no matter how early. Better than too late, don’t you agree?
I think that’s one of the most precious lessons I have learned from this prolonged and stressful time of life when everything stopped or was placed on hold.
Don’t put off the good stuff. It is never too early to be happy. There is no better time than right now to smile, or extend a helping hand, or intentionally be kind. Many of us want to wait for “better conditions” or for the “right time.” We think it will be better “after I retire,” or “when the children are all grown up,” or “when my bank account reaches X amount and I have paid all my bills.”
Then we discover that alas, time has slipped us by; opportunity knocked, but no one opened the door. Sad, but true; time waits for no one.
A taste of normal
I went to my grandson’s birthday last Sunday. We were only nine: his parents, two sisters, their husbands, his girlfriend, my 3-year-old great-grandchild and myself. It was bright and sunny, thank God, the first nonrainy day in several weeks. There was a huge table set up under a tent in the garden. Distance was observed. Everyone wore a mask.
It was a happy occasion. We blew kisses at each other in greeting. I got an elbow nudge from my son-in-law. The food was excellent, chatter nonstop. It felt normal. Almost.
After lunch a package came for the celebrant and we were told it had already been sprayed with alcohol and had stayed outside under the sun for an hour. It was safe. Reminded me of a defused time bomb.
I left early. Before I did, my great-granddaughter who was playing with her Disney characters at the end of the table suddenly reached out her little hand and shyly stroked mine. She looked at me and smiled ever so sweetly. I think she knew I was dying to hold her close and squeeze her in my arms. My heart melted and tears almost ran down my mask.
I went home with mixed emotions. I had a wonderful day but I was sad thinking of what lies ahead, not for me, but for that little angel who smiled at me.
I have lived through critical times and seen images of destruction and desolation, not just in pictures but also up close. But this time there are no visible ruins—unless you count the boarded-up business establishments that have gone belly up. Look around you. Everything seems the same. But nothing is.
Today we face a strange and daunting world. The pandemic has touched everyone and everything. It is as scary within the walls of a luxurious penthouse as it is in the darkness of the poorest hovel. Wherever we may be, we cower in fear wondering, “Will I be next?”
It is difficult to maintain some measure of calm in the middle of so much uncertainty. This time of anxiety has done untold harm not just to seniors. I know of many otherwise healthy and confident young men and women who now suffer from insomnia, depression and paranoia. Some are even suicidal.
I hear many lament that 2020 has been a waste, with more than half the year gone and nothing to show for it. I think about that. Last I looked, God has never made anything that was useless or a mistake. God is wise.
There are many theories. But what do you believe?
I know where to anchor my faith. And it holds me steady. I choose to look up. I believe that God is up to something tremendous and has allowed this calamity to happen for a reason. Just watch and pray.
There’s much to be thankful for. I woke up this morning. That is a battle won, right there. And I ponder the words of American poet Mary Oliver: “It is a serious thing, just to be alive, on this fresh morning, in this broken world.”
Here I am, alive and well. Just this morning, I heard the chirping of birds outside my window. I smelled the delicious aroma of my first cup of coffee.
It rained last night and I could hear the downpour and the thunder. But I was snuggled in my bed, safe and secure while I reminisced about other stormy nights under distant skies. I say thank you for the magic of memories and the miracle of remembering.
I am thankful for my faith. For friends who encourage me. For the warmth and love of my family. For a roof over my head. Food on the table. Health and strength.
And I welcome the bonus of a new generation that follows. In these precious little ones I find hope. They remind me that life continues. That it is good.