31 Days of Giving Permission . . . TO CHANGE

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Everything changes.
We live in a world that is bound by time.
And time passes
and things (and people) change.

And we don’t like it very much, do we?
We label this process ‘aging,’
and I suppose that is true, as far as it goes.

But there is so much more to changing over time,
so much more.

Appearances definitely change over time, don’t they?
Last week, we had the joy of viewing this glory, up close and personal. 

Now, we are back at home, glad to be here, and we brought with us a few souvenirs.
This is all that remains of the outrageous conflagration of color
we gasped at all over the New England states.
These leaves, no longer connected to the tree,
still beautiful, but fading.

And eventually, disintegrating to dust. 

Today, I visited my mother and my mother-in-law.
70 years ago, my MIL looked like this –
young, enraptured with her firstborn,
dark-haired, smooth-skinned. 

And 66 years ago, this was my mother,
holding her nearly 2-year-old firstborn,
pregnant with number two,
joyful, loving life, energetic. 

Today, I found them both happily enjoying the beauty of cut flowers,
which they were helping to arrange themselves.
These vases go into their rooms,
to add color and life,
and will be replaced next Wednesday,
when the Garden Ladies come again to brighten their day.

Their skin is wrinkled, their hair is gray, their memories
are shrinking, narrowing. 

And of course, this aging process does not apply to our parents only;
Dick and I have seen our share of wrinkles and gray hairs, too.
Here we are in 1968, just after returning from two years in Africa. 


And here we are last week, sitting on a rock overlooking a New Hampshire hillside.

Yes, indeed, we have changed in appearance.
And we have changed on the inside, too.

We’ve grown up as well as grown old,
we’ve grown a family and careers,
we’ve been enriched by living, and loving, and losing.

Everyone changes.
And though it is sometimes hard,
it is always good.

Always.

Even when change brings the smart of tears to our eyes,
they are tears of joyful memory as well as sorrowful reality.

Because, you see, the past is always part of the present.
because we bring it with us.
We are who we’ve been becoming,
gray hair, expanding waistline, and all.

And you’ll get there, too.
So start now to give yourself permission to change,
to grow, to age – like a good cheese or a fine wine.

Every stage of life is a gift of God, even the hardest ones.
And change is something to be embraced,
and lived into gracefully.
Even though it’s sometimes scary and hard,
life is a gift.

First and foremost,
life is a gift. 

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Comments

  1. Excellent! How fortunate the person who accepts this young!

    We must give ourselves permission to change AND extend that permission to others. I looked across a table at my friend’s face the other day, saw the changes I see in my own mirror and I thought of the many rich experiences we have had together since we met 18 years ago. What a blessing, this history!

    Love this whole series of posts, Diana!

    Marilyn

  2. Pam Green says:

    that was really beautiful Diana. I really enjoyed the one on dreams, I have a tendency to not pay too much attention to them, but maybe I should?

    • Thank you, Pam. If you can remember your dreams well enough to write them down in the morning, do that. Then think about them, pray about them and see what rises. I give you a few hints in that post – check them out. Thanks so much for commenting today.

  3. Beautifully said Diana. Yes to all of it – gray hair, expanding waist and all.

  4. This is SOOO GOOD, Diana! Thank you!! You touched my heart today and gave me a little time and space away from the medical to breathe and appreciate, because life absolutely IS a gift. Always. No matter what.

    • Oh, Cindee, if this helps you with your no-good, terrible, very-bad day, I’m delighted. And yes it is. A gift. Love to you.

  5. Gwen acres says:

    And then there are those who do not get to live out the years that bring change. That alone makes me grateful for what I see when I look in the mirror. Thank you Diana for always framing the deep things and the fun things of life so perfectly.

    • Gwen Acres says:

      Just a little thing, but I noticed it. The picture of you and Dick when you came home from Africa shows you both looking at each other. The one taken recently you both are looking out at the world. Seems symbolic of the first half and second half of life.

      • Thanks for your kind words, Gwen. I chose the pictures of us because we were in the same relative position to one another – but your observation is a keen one. Thank you.

  6. you have grown
    in Him
    in love
    in beauty

  7. Lovely perspective and pictures. But all changes always good? The ravages of the most severe disease and dementia and depression and despair from the sheer weight of years of suffering? The cost to the soul of prolonging the gift of life with coldly clinical procedures is a disturbing part of the equation of aging and mortality. I see these human quandaries daily. Perhaps I missed something in your one side of a celebration. Truly, enlighten me.

    • I am wondering if you’ve read anything else I’ve written in this space, Kate. Because I have talked pretty openly about the uglier parts of aging. Believe me, I am well acquainted with a lot of what you describe, on multiple levels. This post is short and part of a 31 day blogging challenge. I chose to accent the truth that life is a gift, even when it’s hard. Both of our mothers have DNRs in place and one is on Hospice Care now. I do not believe in or encourage ‘prolonging the gift of life with coldly clinical procedures’ nor do I espouse that anywhere in this post. There are limits to the blogging format. Please read a little more widely before you determine that I am unfamiliar with ‘these human quandaries.’ I might even choose to talk about some of this on a later day in this series. But in the context of this particular post, in this particular series, I chose not to do so. I’m sorry if that feels inadequate to you.

      • You are right. I am new to this reading. And also that I would find that premise of a blogging challenge artificial and thus superficial. Courageous obedience through suffering is a gift of strength. The suffering itself is not, and the distinction is essential to accurate theology of Gods character, in my view. I see that you do not seek to trivialize these issues and thank you for your response.

        • I am in agreement with your view of suffering, Kate. I believe God works in our suffering to bring redemption in some way, but I do not believe that the suffering, in and of itself, is a gift or that it is ‘good.’ God is the one who can transform it, but the actual living of it? It’s hard and gritty and painful. Also, I do not find this challenge to be ‘superficial,’ or even, to tell you the truth, ‘artificial.’ It is what it is – a project in which, as bloggers, we try to produce one post a day for 31 days on a topic of our choice. Certainly, such writing can be superficial, but is not necessarily so just by definition. Because I am now old, I wrote this one to gently try to suggest that – much as our culture teaches us otherwise, both explicitly and implicitly – aging happens, like it or not. And if we can somehow hang onto the truth that life itself is good, and long life a gift, then we’ll settle into the whole process a whole lot more peacefully. This was not meant to be a commentary on suffering, dying, or the vagaries of the medical profession. Our son is a hospice and palliative care doctor so these are conversations I am deeply familiar with and actually think about quite a lot. But parallel to my belief that life should not be medically extended just for the sake of extension, I also believe that we do not hold the power – at least ethically and morally – to shorten life, either. I think maybe you might see that these issues are huge and not exactly containable within the confines of an 800 word blog post. That does not, however, (at least, in my opinion) make those 800 words artificial or superficial, either. Your queries have pushed me hard, and that is a good thing. So I thank you for your honesty and your response.

          • Gwen Acres says:

            How stimulating to dialogue. That is how I learn. It is good to look at all sides of a question and not just my own answer. But may I add that having known the life, sermons and and writings of Diana Trautwein for some years now, she is never superficial or artificial. I count her as my long distance spiritual mentor.

          • I stand corrected.

  8. Gwen Acres says:

    Kate, No correction intended, just more information on the subject. We all come from our
    unique perspectives and observations. That is what I enjoy so much when we share and “reshare”.

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