Sunday, November 02, 2008
Eternity in their heart
On Reaching Middle Age, with Friends
I planned a meal of food—
My food was love, instead.
Sweet joy and peace and hope—
With these my soul was fed.
I hoped not to feel old—
My heart instead seems young:
The years to come a song
Now waiting to be sung.
Here you are, Lucy. One more poem! You have coaxed me out of hiding.
I wrote this the night of my birthday several years ago. For various reasons, that particular birthday weighed heavily on me. Drazen had the lovely idea of having a real birthday party, something I hadn't done since childhood. I cooked and cooked, everything Italian, and had as many girlfriends over as our house could seat to eat. They ranged from a kindergarten friend to a friend made in the previous couple of years, and even one friend made in Italy was there.
As you can tell from the poem, it worked. My focus shifted drastically.
I have since had times of struggling with my age. Not so much the gray hair--I feel I've earned any sign of wisdom I might be graced with. But it's the things I haven't done that I thought I would have done by now, and the things that most likely will not be a part of my life, no matter what.
But I find Drazen's cure still works. Friends. Relationships. Old ones, new ones, green ones, blue ones. Oh, wait, the poem part is over, isn't it?
I love the verse from Ecclesiastes, "He has also set eternity in their heart." I feel the effects of time in my body, and I see them in the mirror. But more and more in my heart, I sense eternity. And friends are a big part of that, as you see them aging along with you and see their hearts growing and deepening, and you become less and less alone.
And the friends who have died....they just make eternity seem closer, more real.
Why am I thinking about this tonight? It's not my birthday, and I haven't noticed new gray hair, or re-injured my knee. I guess it's because we sang a requiem service tonight, in honor of local servicemen lost to the war, and people murdered in Memphis, in the past year.
A friend who was there told me later, "The music was just beautiful. It brought earth and heaven together right here."
I don't know when my true "middle age" might have been reached, or when it will be reached. But it just doesn't seem so important in the context of tonight--a night which, by the way, had a good deal of friendship and food both mixed in. Maybe food is also part of the mix....
I'll end with the piece we sang immediately following the reading of names:
Give rest, O Christ, to your servants with your saints:
where sorrow and pain are no more;
neither sighing, but life everlasting.
You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind:
and we are mortal, formed of the earth,
and to earth shall we return:
for so did you ordain,
when you created me, saying:
"You are dust, and to dust you shall return."
All of us go down to the dust;
and even at the grave we make our song:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.