Carpe diem

I joined the YMCA shortly after I retired from The Message, and I’ve been in a Silver Sneakers class there for about four years now. The class is composed of senior citizens, ages 65 to about 85.

I’ve recently noticed two things.

One, the seniors are so incredibly kind to one another.

Maybe it’s because we know – at our age – how hard it is to get out the door in the morning and get to class. It’s complicated now.

Maybe it’s because we’ve all been through some pretty hard times over the years, and we know that others have too.

Maybe it’s because we are each struggling with physical ailments, and we can recognize that struggle in others. Now, we know to help one another out.

I don’t know why, but I think senior citizens are kinder. Anyway, that’s been my experience. Maybe we age into kindness. I don’t know.

I have also noticed the way I tell people good-bye after each class at the Y.

There’s no complacency. During the last four years, we’ve lost some class members and their spouses. Now I say, “I hope I see you on Wednesday,” realizing life is short. For me and for others.

I can’t imagine thinking like that in my twenties or thirties or even in my forties. I figured that I was in control, and that was that. I felt the years stretching out in front of me like an endless highway.

Of course, that has changed, and the phrase, “carpe diem,” or seize the day, has an urgency to it now.

Despite all that, I like being in my late sixties. It seems that the things that I worried about in middle age have drifted away like the feathers off of a bird. It’s become easier to let things go. To let God.

We better. The older we get the more we are sure – we are positive – that we are not in charge of much.

St. Teresa of Avila, a doctor of the Church, wrote these words:

Let nothing disturb you,

Let nothing frighten you,

All things are passing away;

God never changes.

Patience obtains all things.

Whoever has God lacks nothing;

God alone suffices.

It’s a wonderful prayer for the elderly, I think. It just makes sense. God is all, and He’s in charge.

Listen to the words from Psalm 115. Our God is in heaven and does whatever He wills.

It’s true.

I’m just sorry that it’s taken me this long to figure that out.