Sunday, January 16, 2022

Being 80

I am 80 years and 4 months old. Like Poet Mary Oliver – I believe that prayer is paying attention. Every morning when I go out to pick up my newspapers, I stop and consciously acknowledge the beauty in which I live. The dew or frost on leaves and branches. How new-fallen snow reminds us of the sculptural beauty of the leaf-less trees. Bird song. The tilt of a mom holding the hand of her toddler. So many of the teachers I have learned from cite the importance of gratitude. Gratitude not just for the present amazements but also for all the people and critters who have been here before me, who have enabled this beauty to permeate my existence. I have serius mobility issues. Please don’t ask me to be careful. I have to be careful. For a time, I allowed these issues (combined with pandemic restrictions) to circumscribe my life. It felt like I was organizing my life around weekly trash pick-ups and Netflix offerings. It was an inadequate existence. I have been on several Road Scholar trips. I receive all their catalogs. One of them contained text describing alternative, and encouraging, ways to participate. You could hike off vigorously with the stalwarts or stay behind and stroll leisurely with other less stalwarts. So, Wednesday morning January 5, 2022, I called them. I explained my physical limitations and the places I wanted to go. It was a long and reassuring phone call. I looked at one of their brochures and asked about trip to the eastern side of the Mediterranean. And I signed up for an “Odyssey at Sea – visiting ancient sites in Greece, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt” I will join the tour on Dec. 1, 2022 and return Dec. 17. Of course, I do not know what my physical condition will be then. Or what the state of the world will be. More pandemic?? More wars?? But I bought ‘trip insurance’ so I will either go or stay home (if indeed I am still alive). Until then, I have a luminous opportunity on my personal horizon. I intend for it to motivate me to get out more, to do more. I need to find a travel buddy to go with me to places like Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge. In July I plan to attend the Indiana wedding of my friend’s daughter. And I will arrange as many encounters with my grandson (and sons and daughter-in-law) as possible. I’d like to go back to Taos and Santa Fe. Get an entry permit for Rocky Mountain National Park and visit other Colorado wonders. And go to concerts and plays. And show up for this congregation which has been such a magnificent resource for my mind and soul. I believe that I am not only connected to everything (and everyone) that exists now, but also to everything (and everyone) that existed before (and maybe, but I haven’t figured out how, to everything that ever will exist).
These connections comprise my obligations. I am obliged to honor all components of this vast and infinitely complex universe, to protect individuals and elements that are in jeopardy, and to celebrate the ineffable beauty that permeates existence.