Our younger years are the time for practice, the time for sketching, but somewhere in middle age, the etching begins. In spite of our liberal use of sunscreen and moisturizing facial masks, the lines become irreversible and will eventually hold our older face in place.
If our face is regularly enlightened by wonder, lifted by gratitude, crinkled in laughter, surprised by joy, wisened by grief, and at ease in tender meditation, more lines will be etched from these positions.
Of course, we can also have faces etched by chronic worry, leaky resentment, sudden tempers and scornful scowls. I think we all know the difference when we see a face of 85 or 90 years.
There is not one 20 year old supermodel whose face can hold a candle to a 90 year old face graced by years of compassion, love and tenderness. It is in these ancient faces, formed with kindness and wisdom, where the love of the universe is illuminated most clearly.
“It is lovely to meet an old person whose face is deeply lined, a face that has been deeply inhabited, to look in the eyes and find light there.” – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara
As my life turns the corner, I want to live not in the pursuit of perpetual youth, but instead in the pursuit of the best kinds of wrinkles. May my old face be an artist’s masterpiece that makes young hearts want to dance.
I might be in the autumn of my external life, but internally I find myself in the spring of my authentic, spiritual life – the beginning of the kind of vibrant living which has eluded me in my youth. My soul is drinking deeply from the well of life even as my physical body begins its inevitable journey towards the compost heap. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
In some ways, I sense the harvest time approaching, especially as I begin to savor the friendships I share with my older children. But in other ways, I find that this is still a season for sowing. Only now am I coming into the full understanding of what it is I would like to plant. If this growing cycle exceeds my lifespan, so be it. Maybe the best harvest is the one that is left for the next generation.