Sometimes I cannot wait to grow older. I know, you don’t hear that spoken often from a person’s mouth these days, much less a woman’s. But it’s true. That thought most recently came to me as Country Man and I pulled into the small Sunday service, and I watched an older woman smile freely and wave as we searched for a place to park. Looks like someone saved us a spot, he said, as we squeezed into an opening five cars from the front of the building.
At 27, I am slowly beginning to notice the subtle hints of not being 20 anymore. Like the teeny tiny creases around my eyes and hands that were certainly not there three years ago …
I talk with my older friends, some silver-haired and some not, and there is an undeniable shine lighting up their eyes that draws me to them. Behind that shine, surrounded by many creases and folds, lies years of experiences that have formed into wisdom. It’s in witnessing their wisdom that I am not afraid to grow older.
Not every older person has that shine in their eyes that speaks wisdom, however. Some old people are just plain rude, perhaps due to many years of harboring old offenses while not acknowledging the pain they have caused others. They are calloused, rough and sometimes cruel.
As I write this, I think of last night’s Lenten service I helped serve. A woman in her late 70s (we’ll call her Norma) impatiently hands me her empty styrofoam coffee cup, unsmiling, asking (demanding) for more. I smile, and say I’m on it.
I am learning there are old fools and wise young, bright eyes and dark ones, too. I think of the energetic homecoming queen a few miles west, with a heart set on fire to love all she meets. I also think of the 80 year-old in the same direction, who is easily angered, speaks harshly, and has a way of cutting people down, especially his only son.
Last night as we were driving home, I looked at my husband, and to those lines forming around his eyes. I felt thankful for this man and those wrinkles and crinkles and large, calloused working hands.
I also thought about before we left the church, when Norma surprised me by coming up to the kitchen once more, thanking everyone for the bars and coffee and all the work. I thought about how she just stood in front of the counter for a while, watching, with a hint of a smile hiding in those pursed, unreleased lips, and that maybe a little light shone behind those eyes after all …