March 3, 2014

I can’t say that I remember many specific examples but… when I was a kid I could sleep anyplace, anytime, in any grotesque position. I’m assuming that many of us were like that. I mean we didn’t need a pillow or a mattress we just curled up and… lights out. I do remember one instance on a VERY rare occasion when my family stayed in a motel as we were traversing the country. Since there were too many of us in the room and not enough beds I got the floor. I was 7 years old… I didn’t care. I was too excited about being in a Motel! I had terrible nightmares all night long that I was being burned alive. I didn’t realize until the morning that I was sleeping right in front of the heat vent. On another occasion my sisters and I made a “tent” of sorts out of blankets pinned to our mom’s clothes line. We would attach the blankets and then stretch them out and use bricks to hold the corners in place. One night I rolled out from under the protective “tent” and was sound asleep when my sister woke me up to go inside because it was pouring down rain. I was drenched. The key point is, “My sister had to wake me up.”

I carried that ability to sleep into adulthood. In my 20’s it took an explosion to wake me in the middle of the night. That being said, I did develop an ear for children crying… and the capacity to say “Ellen, the kids are up.” But at some point, maybe in my 40’s, that ability to sleep went away. All of a sudden I found myself lying in bed for long stretches before finally drifting off. Or, waking at 2:00 a.m. for some unknown reason and watching the minutes leading to morning slowly drift by. Those nights come more often now… 5 out of 7 at least.

All of that to say that Ellen asked me this morning how I slept? I slept GREAT! Like a stone. Fell asleep right away and was unconscious until morning. I told her, “Nice treat every now and then.” Do you hear that? Something that was once a given that I didn’t even think about is now a rare treat. I can’t say that’s a complete description of adulthood, or the “senior” life… but it sure resonates on all kinds of levels. I mean remember what it was like to move without pain or crackling in all your joints; to run or throw a ball? Remember when you got together with your friends until late into the night and talked and laughed for hours and not one person said anything about health? For that matter do you remember getting together with friends? Some of you might be too young to identify with this… just wait. Something as simple as sleep that we once just took for granted becomes a struggle and a major headache in life!

I’m not whining… just point out the reality of things. As we age we do not get better physically. And if we live long enough we will likely fail mentally as well. Isn’t that an encouraging thought! (Some of you reading this failed mentally a long time ago but I will refrain from naming names.)

Even with the slowing down of bodies as we get older there are still advantages and disadvantages to all the stages of our lives.

Proverbs 20: 29 says:

29         The glory of young men is their strength,

gray hair the splendor of the old.

In other words when we are young we are strong, virile, physical… It’s what young folks are noted for. You want to move a piano… don’t call a 65 year old man.

Youth allows for adventure, exploration and pursuing the desires of one’s heart. That doesn’t mean that we can or should do ANYTHING. After all there are consequences for our actions… note the last two lines of this verse:

Ecclesiastes 11:

9           Be happy, young man, while you are young,

and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.

Follow the ways of your heart

and whatever your eyes see,

but know that for all these things

God will bring you to judgment.

On the other hand Proverbs says that the splendor of the aged is their gray hair. Doesn’t sound like anything splendid to me! Well it’s likely that the writer is commenting on the fact that one has to attain a ripe old age in order to grow gray hair. Not nearly a given in the ancient world. And there are some who also see aging as a sign of righteousness.

Well what I’m getting at is this… no matter your age, take a few moments each day to appreciate where you are in life. Whether you are young and laughing with friends, or laying in bed once again wondering when you will fall asleep. Appreciate the moments because they will all pass quickly enough.


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