Last year was pretty huge. I was so tired, so completely spent at this year's beginning that I noticed year-in-review posts on other blogs, and just pulled the quilt up tighter around my ears and closed my eyes. I didn't have the energy--physical or spiritual--to revisit it all, even virtually. It was just.so.much.
I went through that year of many, many transitions kicking and screaming. Turns out I'm not a big fan of change. The reality is that I liked the baby years, loved them, really and never once wished them away. And yet, in the big giant year of transition, they were indeed being swept beyond my reach. I left my children for the first time. And then for the second. Someone turned four and there was no one younger than her around the table at dinner. But there was someone new at the table. And she came to be one of us. I gained a new role. The transition was absolutely unmistakeable.
Our culture is so youth oriented. For the most part it seems, no one really searches out ways to be older. We celebrate 21 in a big way. We mark midlife with black-themed birthday cards and bad jokes about being over the hill. I think I bought into that mentality a bit. And I think I know a big reason I was such easy prey.
I was so dang tired. The truth is that this wholehearted, all-in, very attached parenting style had depleted me to the equivalent of soil dust. Nothing rich was growing there. If this was what the mid-forties felt like, I could not imagine sixty.
But I have a four-year-old. And my most fervent prayer is to grow old healthy, and holy, and helpful. I want to be there for her. I want to see how the story unfolds. I want to get out of bed in the morning without my knees cracking so loudly it wakes my husband.
In the blur that was the new year, friends were choosing words for the year--just single words upon which to focus, meditate, seek wisdom. A word to live for the whole year. I couldn't wrap my brain around one.
And then I could. Aimee said her word was renew. Renew.
That's it. That's the word. It's the word that says that this stage in life is not the beginning of the end. It's the beginning, instead, of something better, stronger, wiser, and yes--older. But older in the richest way. That's certainly being proven true in marriage. Did you know that the sweetest wine is grown from the oldest vineyards? Grapes grow best when the farmer works in harmony in with the earth, when he embraces the whole and considers that plant and the land around it as they were endowed by the Creator, with an eye towards preserving the quality for a long time. The goal of biodynamic farming is to be sustainable. When you grow grapes, you draw something from the soil and you have to replenish that.
When we learned about biodynamic vineyards, one point that came home to me is that growing practices greatly influence how long the vineyards will continue to bear fruit. The vines where the practice is focused upon sustainable growth--where the big picture is considered and every element of farming is oriented towards ensuring health of the vines down deep and over time--are the vines that bear the sweetest fruit. At first, the explanation of biodynamic farming sounds a bit hokie. But then, you can literally taste and see that the fruit borne of the wisdom of old is of a superior quality.
This image works so well for me. The Bible is rich with imagery of vineyards. Clearly, God wants us to consider how to grow in a sustainable way in order to renew the face of the earth. I've never been more certain of that than I was this morning. I had written the above over the course of the last few weeks. I clicked over to visit Aimee in order to link to her in my post. When I did, I learned she's writing today about sustainable homeschooling. My jaw dropped and I smiled widely at God's thunk over my head. If ever I asked for a sign that I was on the right track, I got a clear answer at 7:00 AM on Tuesday January 29th while visiting Aimee's blog. It's a post that just might easily have catapulted to my favorite home education post ever this morning. There is wisdom there, my friends. Rich, rich wisdom. Get this: middle aged wisdom. Yep. There is wisdom and it's invaluable.
I look around at the friends with whom I've had babies and I am blessed to know that they've grown wise. How amazing! We all learned something during those hazy, intense, sleep-deprived years.
So, now I embrace renewal. I look to tend the vineyard of my soul, to be sure, but I am not going to neglect the rest of me any more. The big picture of renewal is one that encompasses physical health, spirtual growth, creative energy and enthusiasm, and an invigorated sense of hope and optimism for the future. I look to my home, to my homeschooling, to the relationships within these walls and to the people I love beyond these walls. Renewal. All of it is waiting to be made new again.
What a different perspective than that of a withering towards an inevitable end. We can renew and renew and renew again, until our dying breath. God is generous that way.
I've talked a bit about stillness. About allowing Him to come in the silence.
Be still and know that I am God.
The last two weeks at Mass, an old familiar hymn has settled on my soul in a new way. I've listened to You Are Mine and heard the refrain of stillness. I will come to you in the silence. But I've also heard the rest. I heard the echoes of Isaiah 43:1
But now, thus says the LORD,
who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name: you are mine.
There is nothing to fear. I am redeemed.
And the promise of John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid
Transitions can be scary. Aging can be scary. Renewal, though? The sustainable model of growth that keeps us renewing until we reach heaven? That's peace.
Last year, was a hard year. It was exhausting. It was a compost year, I think. A year of creating very fertile ground for renewal.