Aging is an invitation to go deeper into life. It is the shift from doing to being.
Often our adult life was so busy. We ran here and there just to make sure that everything got done, all the bases were covered, and nothing was left out. Success was finishing it all on time.
Today I don’t accomplish as much as I used to. There are many empty spaces in my appointment book. I have more time to reflect.
Early in my life as a priest, Father John Malone and I had the pleasure of working with Fr. Fred Mertz. Fred could never keep his schedule straight, he never carried an appointment book and trusted all to memory. John and I had to remind him regularly of where he was expected to be. After Fred retired, I went to breakfast with him and we decided on a future event we would attend. Fred reached into his breast pocket and drew out an appointment calendar. I said, “Fred, you never had an appointment book before, why do you have one now that you are retired?” He answered, “Before it was always somebody else’s time and agenda. Now it is my time, and that is important.”
I realize that I don’t need most of the stuff I have collected in life. It is time to prune, time to pitch and toss, time to simplify. It is time to shed distractions and allow for fewer encumbrances.
The shedding of the ”stuff” is cleansing, freeing, like taking in fresh air.
We learn to enjoy and celebrate the temporary, while holding firmly only to the permanent.
This cleansing allows for a clearer vision of life; the chance to look at life and the meaning of the events of life from the point of view of history, from the mountaintop.
Romano Guardini writes: “In old age something special happens to reality. Its hardness is softened by the experience of change. The view of things widens out. Toward the end the whole comes again into view. In autumn when the leaves fall from the trees, the view expands and one is conscious of a wide space.”
Fr. Steve Adrian