Saturday, August 09, 2014

On Turning 62

62 is the "18" of late life. At 18 you aren't 21 yet when all the REALLY big privileges kick in, but there were some new horizons. At 18 I could vote, buy cigarettes and Playboy at Circle K, but not beer, and adults regarded me as one of them, kind of. At 62, I could retire and start cashing in retirement accounts penalty free (if I had any...), eat off the senior menus at most restaurants, but 65 is still the magic age. And, kids call me "sir".

In between 18 and 62, on the round numbered birthdays, 30, 40, 50, there is something that shifts existentially and the demons we faced in the previous decade tag out and new ones enter the arena of the coming years. Over the years our aspirations slowly align more with our fragile mortality and true gifts. The tsunami of regrets begin pounding our shore from our ill conceived or unintentional seismic shifts in life from the distant past. Death looms ever larger, the abyss of darkness casts a light into the deep caverns of our soul and reveals all the unthinkable, unchangeable, inevitable, and unspeakable things we were able to avoid and ignore because of the reality-debilitating delusions of youth. If we continue much past 40 to cling to youthfulness and immortality we will be a caricature badly drawn, and fools by fifty.

Looking back at 30, 40, 50, and in the early years of 60-something, I can say without pride that I have fought the good fight, I have kept my faith. The "good fight" was not always fair, nor was it always pretty. I was knocked down, punch drunk, hit below the belt, sucker punched a few times and laid on the mat for a nine count a few times. I still have a few rounds to go. At this point in life, I have no illusions that the fight becomes easier. If anything it has gotten harder because I am nearly exhausted. The early rounds were full of fresh strength and confidence. These final rounds are about endurance and just plain being still standing when the bell rings. 

"Faith" is now more like real faith than a crafted, reasoned resignation to its metaphysical, philosophical, and emotional alternatives. I am content to believe "just because" rather than "believe because". I don't need to justify my heart's compass to anyone.  There is a fine line between a fool and a saint. I've been a fool for things far less worthy than sainthood and sacrificed more for my selfishness and ego than for God. I've been off the path, but my compass still points me to the way I've chosen to walk.

My children and grandchildren (most of them) will be at our house for my birthday tonight. We spent the earlier part of this week with some of the others on a family vacation. All of them will all be here in spirit. I know I am very blessed to love and be loved by my children, step-children, and grandchildren. All of them have reasons to despise me if they were so inclined, so I know their love and respect is a gift.

This morning as I fixed my coffee and peanut butter toast in the house I raised my children in, that I share with my beloved as our years spin out their final pages, I was overwhelmed with a sense of contentment with my life.

I've read this Psalm for over 40 years. I have heard it with the hearing of the ear, today I have heard it with my heart.

When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house,
Your children like olive plants around your table.
Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.…
Psalm 128:3,4


Anonymous said...

Many years.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Happy Birthday, and may God grant you Many Years!

Anonymous said...

Many blessed years:)

Drewster2000 said...


I bought your book and read it through. Excellent stuff. It's an unpretentious collection of life advice. I was edified. St. Theophan is one of my favorite saints but I'd never heard of his 3 levels of prayer. So thank you for that all all the other wisdom you and Fr. Joseph put in there.

And of course I continue to appreciate your posts. Please keep letting us know what life looks like from where you are.


Photeini said...

Many Years! I enjoyed your birthday blog and also the blog and photos of your building projects at St. Paisius. What a beautiful monastery. Thanks

elizabeth said...

Many years! Yes, I've heard it only gets harder... Lord have mercy. Have you ever ready Lewis' Letters to an American Lady? I promised myself when I am 'older' I must re-read it, as I sensed that I would need it then.... I hope that you are blessed in the fight and given the strength to stay standing.

Sasha said...

Glad your "compass still points me to the way" - I find myself off the path sometimes, and am glad for the same reason afterwards.

Happy birthday! though I know it's belated. :) I typically catch up on the posts later than others.