Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Aging Gracefully

Dove (the soap and miscellaneous beauty product manufacturer) has launched a "campaign for real beauty." Their attempt is to uncover the lies that we believe about our worth as women based on what society portrays as "beautiful." Their website has a video clip of a woman undergoing a makeover in order to reach billboard status. When you visit the site, make sure to click on the short film.

I have thought a great deal about this over the years, particularly since becoming a mother and observing the various morphings and stretchings involved in bearing another human being. My body is indelibly marked and most days these etchings shine for me as badges of honour to commemorate my motherood status. Otherdays, they burn as inconsistencies on the smooth skin I once knew. I value health and physical wellness and enjoy eating seasonal, nourishing foods that provide rich energy. And I have always loved to get out and MOVE my body with yoga, running, swimming or working out at the local rec centre. But even while maintaining health, and working toward a return to my pre-partum body, I have come to a place of acceptance as I observe the aspects of my bodily changes that simply will not return and are not able or meant to. This is part of my becoming, and it is beautiful.

Earlier this week, I spent an evening with a deeply beautiful group of people. We met to discuss traditional Anglican Creed Beads and their use within the cycle of prayer. The hostess answered the door with ease, dressed to the nines with a bright paisley dress, golden brooch and shiny black dress boots. She is a queenly, "put-together" woman in her late 70's or early 80's. Her head is covered gently with snow-white hair revealing her age, yet she always wears childlike earnestness and glee in her glistening eyes and pulling at the edges of her glowing smile. She exudes grace and hospitality and people are drawn into her presence. I was grateful for the chance to *see* and know more of her by sharing time in her home.

We were invited into the den where others were waiting. The darkness of night settled around us and we drew near to receive what we each needed. Toward the end, the hostess led us upstairs to her kitchen where she had lovingly prepared an elaborate array of teas, coffees and various pastries, breads and fruits. She showed us a few pieces of original artwork hanging on her walls, while explaining the history behind a certain miniature print she was particularly drawn to.

As the night wore on, I discovered things about her that I share in common. She is a nurse by trade, she passionately enjoys art and music, she has an eye for photography, and she writes poetry. I found myself inspired and encouraged by the sharpness of mind, grandeur of spirit and lively energy that swirled around her.

She and her husband walked us to the door and as I pulled on my shoes, we chatted about our lives. She shared about difficult circumstances from earlier in her life and the details surprised me and quieted my spirit with a sense of overwhelming grace. She experienced the reality of loneliness and alienation and judgement from others. And yet toward the end of her journey, in the winter of her life, she is able to stand with dignity and outstretched arms. She holds no judgement and the years are being redeemed.

I felt quieted as I thought of difficult and unwise choices in my life and the lives of others I love. And I felt in that instant that our lives are like a vast windswept plain stretching for miles in every direction. The blades of grass and sways of wheat combine to create gold. And no matter how trampled parts of the field become, there is a possiblity of rain, another harvest, redemption.

1 comment:

Heather Elaine said...

your words paint pictures so gracefully!
There is something beautiful about embracing each stage of life; appreciating, but not longing for past seasons. My grandma Tuggy, in a different way, is a picture of joyous liveliness in all stages of life. God is so good to put people in our lives that grace our minds with a picture of what life can be like in the years to come.