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Becoming an Elder in the 21st Century

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One day it just happened. I woke up at 8 a.m. from my usual sound sleep that is interrupted only by one trip to the bathroom and a quick venture outside to stargaze at 3 a.m. Back to sleep I went. My sleep was dotted with the early morning dreams. However, then it just happened. I woke up.

Before I even opened my eyes, I realized something was different. I realized that the memories I had been tussling with while awake and in my dreams during my month of solitude (because my husband was away on a work project) were suddenly just memories. No more. No less.

My memories were still crystal clear yet they no longer had me tethered to grief, self-doubt, regret, shame, the void created by my empty nest or my to-do lists of "things and "people I have yet to forgive" and "grudges I must NEVER forget."

My memories no longer held me hostage and powerless to move beyond the wounding and disappointment of unfulfilled dreams, plans gone astray or delusions of grandeur, meaning there must be some stupendous purpose for my life I simply haven't found yet.

Yet? For what could I possibly be waiting? Wow. This was different. "Hello? Is anybody else here?" Nope. I was alone. I was going for freedom.

I resisted my urge to leap out of bed and declare my independence to the universe. Rather, I stayed in my cozy bed with my eyes closed, and I savored the moment. I even wondered for an instant if I was still dreaming. No, I was indeed awake.

I did a body scan, stress release skill I was getting pretty used to. I thought about how grateful I was for my healthy body. All of it. I expressed my love and appreciation for my life. I am relatively flexible, energetic, happy, and cautiously I admit, adventurous.

I even loved my wrinkled skin, saggy eyelids and grey hair. I loved every part of me: past, present and future! I loved my mysterious, timeless, unbounded, still-to-be-revealed future!

I felt good. I felt free. I felt a spiritual and emotional spaciousness that was surprisingly very new to me. I suddenly and somehow knew, how to live simply in a chaotic world. I could answer the "Who am I?" question with "I don't know yet, I just woke up." I was actually excited to find out.

What I also knew, and felt deeply, is that I loved myself. I was becoming more fearless, I accepted myself and all my human and feminine mistakes, blunders, foibles and imperfections. I had a list a mile long.

How on earth did this happen? So why did it happen today of all days? Was it because my 61st birthday is just days away? Was it my prayer to St. Anthony for a miracle? Was it the fire ceremony I did on New Year's Eve? (That list of foibles and imperfections I just mentioned was popped into the fireplace on New Year's Eve.)

Was it because my precious and elderly Uncle Billy recently passed away; the guy whom I thought deep down inside would be the one guy to live forever?

Was this just how life works? Is it normal that one day it just happens? This was apparently so, in my case at least.

I awakened further into the awareness that I am an elder in the 21st century. I am in my 62nd year of my life. Aren't I too young to be an elder? I guess not. Uncle Billy just pushed me to the front of the line. My parent's passing didn't have this profound of an effect on me.

All I know so far is that my grief has deepened my appreciation of the virtues of life: kindness, love, forgiveness, patience, compassion, trust and fierce living. I mean FIERCE.

I have survived my pain, fear, disappointment, disillusionment and despair. You must survive yours. I have weathered storms. You must weather yours. I have rested in the calm after the storm. I got caught unaware again. So will you.

I have expanded, contracted, imploded and tried. I have tried again a million times. I have succeeded and I have failed. I have cried a river of tears. I have healed my wounds. I have been wounded again. I have suffered, and I have served. I have forgiven, and I have been forgiven.

Today I value peace, love, kindness and forgiveness.

Today, I am grateful for my life and the beauty that surrounds me. I am gentle, fierce and energized to love and be loved. I am a child of God. I am an elder of God. I am devoted to continuing to express my understanding of the Creator's love with beauty, dignity and grace.

I am here today as a result of the choices I have made. Some of those choices can still make me cringe, by the way. I have no illusion that I will not make a couple or three more mistakes along my life's journey. However, now they will not hold power over my love or my willingness to forgive.

I am here for you, but I cannot do it for you. I have found my way. Now you must find yours. Just know that you are not alone. There are people who love you, care about you and believe in you. You just get to be first on your list.

I am thankful to the Creator, for this good day. It is a day of miracles and wonder. I pray that I am a good sister to all my relations. I am safe. You are safe. I am love. You are love.

I invite you to enter into the silence within you upon awakening each morning and begin each day anew. Today it might just happen to you!

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