Getting older has its down side for sure; but there are also good sides. For one thing, the more years we’ve lived, the more of life we have experienced, if we have paid attention, our perspective is broader. We seem to gain a greater sense of what really matters. Franciscan priest Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward talks about two halves of life. The first half involves preoccupation with establishing one’s identity – climbing, achieving, and performing. The second half usually associated with age involves challenges, loss of control, broader perspectives, and sometimes suffering. Rohr contends that this “falling down” is in fact moving upward, thus his book title.
Looking back, Honey’s two-year illness and eventual death seventeen months ago seems to have been the occasion for our transition into the second half of life. Her second half went by far too fast. I’m still greatly saddened by what she/we went through, I miss her every day and would have her back in a heartbeat; but I don’t regret my move, though forced, into this new territory. I’m even beginning to enjoy the second half. I reckon the fact that I’m still doing a bit of achieving and performing says that, to some extent, I may still be resisting that transition although it is different now – no climbing: I do those things because I can and want to rather than because I must.
In this space in days to come, maybe I’ll try to share some of my second half scenes, continuing to draw on the beauty and depth of hymnody that continues to light the path. Here’s a good second half hymn scripted by a saint who may have lived most of her life in the second half. I think she had a bit of advantage – she was blind:
All the way my Savior leads me; what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me; cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial, feeds me with the living bread;
Though my weary steps may falter and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the rock before me, lo! a spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me; oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest for me is promised in my Father’s house above:
When my spirit clothed immortal wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way.