Saturday, December 31, 2011

Aging as a Spiritual Practice

So, another year slips past and a new unsullied calendar hangs on the wall. When I was five I thought New Year meant all the stars fell out of the sky and the whole cosmos changed. I begged to stay up to see it. My father carried me outside from the warmth of the room where the family was singing Auld Lang Syne and held me as I reared back and watched the midnight sky overhead. I heard the cheering that meant the year had turned and I waited for the shower of stars that never came.

Having seen my fair share of skies which never rained a shower of stars at midnight on any New Year's Eve, I've come to see New Year's as one day in a string of days. Like Mala beads that slip, one by one through your fingers. You look up from your keyboard at 5:30 and ask, "Where'd the day go?" Where did the week, month, year - all those yesterdays of my life go?

Recently I saw the title of a book I want to read, about aging as a spiritual practice. It's something we talk about. We both struggle with significant health issues which bring with them muscle weakness, pain and serious physical limitations. At times the frustration of not being able to reliably (or spontaneously) do the most basic of tasks is almost overwhelming. We snap and growl like a couple of bears arguing over the same den.

It's not something we like doing. It brings us both to tears sometimes, not from what has been said, but because we cannot bear to be cross with each other. This is what we've been talking about, how do we use this process of illness and aging as catalyst for growth? How do we incorporate the realities of aging into spiritual practice?

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