This Aging Thing Isn’t What I Thought It Would Be.

We’ve taken the first step on this whole elbow saga. I’ve had the shot – and not the kind that you throw back in one gulp and slam the glass on the bar – which I only know about because I’ve seen it that way in westerns, btw. This was the kind where they spray something really cold on your elbow that starts to burn and then poke a needle in one of the soft places and about halfway through you decide it probably would have been better simply to leave things the way they were and if someone doesn’t pull out the needle soon they might need some healing themselves. I did have some choices and I did choose the needle; it seemed least invasive at the time. He said it might work – I’ll take those odds. Of course, that was before he poked me with a sharp object.

I woke up this morning with a startling realization. The Royals cannot call on me now for another arm in the bullpen because I’m on the ‘roids and I think they test for that. We haven’t yet started that kind of testing for clergy. If my next couple of sermons are home runs, you’ll know why! The shot made a bubble in my elbow and today, not so much the not-hurting. I didn’t necessarily think the pain would go away immediately – well, actually I did think the pain would go away immediately. I was told it wouldn’t likely happen that way but I’ve found that listening to things I don’t want to hear isn’t my best gift. He did say I wouldn’t completely know if the shot was going to really work for three weeks. Three weeks?!? Seriously? That’s essentially Pentecost – I may experience the power of the coming of the Holy Spirit in a whole new way this year! Wahoooo!

It’s occurred to me that getting older isn’t always the roll in the green grass I might have thought it would be. I haven’t really been that excited about the force of gravitational pull and noticeable things that used to be smiles that seemingly overnight have kinda turned to frowns on my body, but I have always imagined how much fun it would be to have more time to read the books I’ve always wanted to read, and to linger over lunches without feeling guilty. I had in my head that the older I got, the more I’d know, and what I’ve discovered is that the older I get, the more I know what I don’t know! I always thought that as I aged I’d slow down and what I’ve learned is that it simply takes longer to recover from doing the same things I’ve always done. My picture of aging is that you no longer worry about the things that don’t matter, that you automatically let go of old hurts and guilts and burdens; you figure out how to ease up on the need to be perfect in every setting, situation, and relationship; and you have a seemingly immediate deep understanding and patience with the self and with everyone else in the midst of differences, disagreements, and vastly unique life experiences. Why yes, I do enjoy living in that world I create for myself outside of reality, thanks for asking! *snort* Are you wanting to respond to me through your smartphone, iPad, or computer right now???

All those things aren’t particularly generational, are they? Rather, I think they have to do with purpose and intention. If I want all those things I’ve listed as a factor of aging, I can begin to choose them now and do the things it might take to learn new behaviors, new ways of thinking, and new ways of responding to life and the world regardless of age. It’s not really an automatic question around aging, it’s more a question of how we want to use those expanding experiences that occur with the constant passing of days to become what we, in partnership with God, are called to become for our sake and the sake of the world. There is no substitute for life experience, and you don’t know what you don’t know ‘til you know it. The question is the spirit and heart around which we bring to the years of our life and, (if I might be a bit trite) the life in our years. I have learned things in this decade of my 50’s that I didn’t and probably couldn’t have in my 20’s – that doesn’t make those decades better or worse than each other, it simply means we have a choice about the heart and spirit we bring to each one, and maybe that’s the consistent part. We can choose at any and every age to enter situations with humility, gratefulness, an open mind and heart to hear and see and expand in ways that may push and stretch our comfort levels – and maybe that’s how growth happens in every generation we are blessed to experience.

So my elbow hurts a little worse today after the shot that is supposed to help it. I can decide I never should have entered that realm of torture called an orthopedist’s office (sorry unc *wink*) OR I can decide that maybe patience (not a particularly strong piece in my skill-set) is a virtue and 24 hours isn’t quite long enough to make an overall evaluation of choosing to be proactive around an injury I’ve evidently had for many years. Live and learn? I’m thinking that’s not a bad little prayer and perhaps God’s hope for each of us.

I’m hoping the video will give you a grin…