Our lives are a series of passages. One tributary leads to another, which in turn yields to something else on its way to waterfall or harbor, estuary or eddy. At times we are stuck, unmoving. Or so it seems. To be stuck can actually be a decision not to decide something. Perhaps it’s a slow, deep spot before being sucked back out into the rapids where we easily lose our sense of direction and the not unreasonable expectation that we’ll fly ass over tea kettle into the frothy spray. There are even times when our boat slows almost to a crawl and we find ourselves in the enchantments of a Pirates of the Caribbean style rendezvous with delight.
Whatever the case may be it should be our goal to passage well. That is, when faced with life’s bone-chilling decisions, we learn to listen for the most gracious, compassionate means by which to navigate such. Bad transitions lead to less than adequate skills needed for the yet more difficult passages to come. They also create a sinkhole of insecurity since we’ll just have to face similar rapids again later but with one more failure to our credit.
I turn 50 on Monday. Sorry, just let me write that again to be sure I’m not asleep. I turn 50 on Monday. Numbers. We get so stuck on them. Especially the “decade” numbers that are supposed to magically move us on to newer, higher, greater things than we were meant to achieve in our last, apparently insufficient, decade. So, at 50, what should my “achievements” be? To whom do I speak to discover my rating for my forties? Who hands out the balloons and coffee to the five-decade newbies? It comes either with joie de vivre or woe is me that numbers are wielded with respect to age. Along with the number comes a freight train long derivative connotations, expectations, projections, assumptions, and tongue-in-cheek pathos. Pish posh says I.
I think so little about age related stuff these days. Make no mistake, I’m still vain, overly self-concerned and a bit slower maybe. But the idea that, by this age, I should or shouldn’t be something is anathema to me. I am exactly what, who and where I am. It just…is. Yes, I have goals. Yes, I have patterns and certain expectations both of others and myself. Yes, I have jetsam floating in my wake I wish weren’t so obvious. But, at almost 50, I’m happy with what life has or has not become.
I’m much more interested in being the most surrendered and loving person I can be at any given moment during these passages of my life which only seem to come more quickly all the time. I want to say hello well with a definitive eye to eye recognition of another human being equally as needy as I. I want to say forgive me well, and often, to those who have had the misfortune of discovering just how much of an asshole I can be. I want to hold people’s pain and joy well, that they invite me to do so again and offer similar friendship to me. I want to say goodbye well, with class, grace and compassion. A goodbye that puts a Gospel period at the end of a glorious sentence.
Learning to passage well has many rewards. Fewer regrets I suppose might be one. But, more than that, in the ever-expanding journal of our meandering lives, a clarity of chapter markings brings a satisfaction to the sojourner of adequate closure before moving on to another part of their story. It expresses a sense of poise and, ultimately, denouement to our lives that those whose eyes watch us for signs of the Divine are longing to see. More than anything else, how we transition through the passages of our lives reveals the level of our trust in the unseen God making Godself seen – through us. Through me.
Lord, I pray that I’ve passaged well from my forties to my fifties. Let love and kindness be the obvious characteristics of this next passage, Lord. Let the walls of this tunnel be painted with the handprints of those I’ve loved. May the wake of my boat be littered with the flower petals of other’s lives I’ve been blessed to know. May this aging pilgrim always see the best in others and give them the chances afforded me. It’s how I most want to passage.
I turn 50 on Monday. I can hardly wait.
How about you? What does your current passage ask of you?
How might God be inviting you to passage well in these days?