March 23, 2015

An Ode to Spring

At my current church, there is an adorable old man named George. There's something about old-man Georges that get to me. (It's probably not hard for you all to figure it out.) 

This George is even older than my Grampie. And on top of being a centarian, he is also a poet. In fact, when I initially expressed interest in his poetry, he brought me three of his four volumes the following week (he couldn't find any copies of Volume 1).

A few weeks ago, during coffee hour (after the early service, 8 or 10 of us sit around and eat a breakfast of cookies and coffee), we got to discussing the weather, and this slow movement towards spring.

One of my friends/colleagues there is a Maritimer, and she is particularly fond of the winter season. I am not so inclined. She was lamenting the ugliness of this liminal season before spring, and the inevitability of wet feet and dirty half-snow everywhere.

"I look forward to the slush!" George piped up. And we all laughed.

"That sounds like the start of a poem!" I said, and before long we were all urging him to write an Ode to Spring.

The following week, we eagerly asked if he had written our springtime poem. He laughed us off, and I thought, "Better not push too hard."

So yesterday, I said nothing, and we were mid-way through our coffees and cookies when George pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. The much-demanded poem, he told us, is entitled "You Asked Me."

It is my favourite poem about spring, of all times, ever. The first line especially is a killer. I wish you all could see him reading it, slouched into the couch, cookie crumbs on his suit jacket, and a grin on his face.

You Asked Me 

Glory be to spring for ambient slush
As sullen winter humiliates in mush.
Delighted by water rushing down the drain,
We even welcome spring's too frequent rain.

March 9, 2015

Some Thoughts on Aging

It's Monday morning afternoon, and I have exactly 4 homework assignments that need to be done today, and I have finished precisely 0 of them (though I have started 3). So obviously, it is time for me to process some thoughts via this blog... 

I've been thinking this week about aging. Actually, I've been thinking about it all month, maybe longer.

Something in me feels like getting married has flipped a switch, setting an unstoppable train into motion. Growing old seems inevitable now. Children may or may not happen, careers will shift, retirement is something to consider, and someday I'll be the one using a cane to get up, shuffling through the doors of a church, trying to understand a rapidly changing and unfamiliar world.

I know it is isn't marriage that started this; the train has been in motion since my birth. But I felt a little ageless when I was flying solo, as if my unmarriedness was holding time back, because the only person on my to-care-for radar was myself (siblings and parents are a different kind of care, and their aging somehow seems disconnected from my aging). 

Now I talk about things like life insurance and pensions and if we can afford to raise (hypothetical) children in downtown Toronto.

Added to this are the conversations I often have with church folk, specifically the grey-haired variety. They're a significant demographic, and they're always up for a chat.

(I want to be like this someday.)

And it strikes me, over and over, that loneliness and isolation are all too easy to fall into, that we young folks don't understand (or even consider) what it is like to watch your life shrink down, your family move away, your body conspire against you so that your life simplifies down to the essentials, to keeping yourself alive and whatever small extras you may have energy for.

And I wonder two things:
  1. How do I prepare myself for these inevitable life-shifts? 
  2. How do I better care for the older people in my life? 

And I have two answers for myself:

  1. Practice contentment. Let your life be what it is, right now, with gratitude. Keep that attitude.  
  2. Give time. Call those who are far away on a regular basis. When you're face-to-face, be generous with your attention. 
Simple things, really. Simple ones that require my attention, my effort, and my willingness to let go of busy-ness. Which is something I always want but rarely do

Postscript: I'm glad I took twenty minutes to sort these thoughts out. It's been helpful, at least to myself. Maybe to you, too? Now, if only my school-thoughts will come as easily!