The Divine Hours of Lent

Yesterday was my birthday, and I am full of glee this morning…or at least I think what I feel is nearer to outright, childish glee than to anything else I know of. And the reason is that, for the next 364 days, I can honestly say, “I’ll be 75 on my birthday, God willing.”
I don’t know when exactly it was that I became greedy of the years. I can remember, as every kid-turned-grown-up can, how I anticipated turning twenty-one; but that yearning was more for freedom than for advanced age. I can remember, after that, thinking for years that forty would be wonderful. Part of that anticipation was [and is] a gender thing in that biological existence gets a lot easier for women somewhere along in there.
After that, it was fifty I could hardly wait to arrive at. Again, I can remember that on the morning of my fiftieth birthday I was so off-the-wall with delight and excitement that even my kids thought I was bonkers. Sam would have thought so too, I suppose, had he not been the recipient of all my “I can hardly wait!” messages for the preceding three months.
Sixty-five is significant as well. At fifty, one feels–or I did anyway–as if life can now be lived more than accumulated. Most of what society demands by way of formal education, the expected mortgages and possessions, the requisite children, the identified skills and their employment…all of those things are either in place or as in place as they are ever going to be. Ahead of fifty stretches those wonderously rich years of being both as free as one will ever be of restrictions and also as able as one will ever be to do with what has been given. But sixty-five! Oh, my goodness, sixty-five is the time when most of us can begin to harvest part of our own crop, harvest and share and maybe even, if we are blessed, begin to seed out beyond ourselves with some of what we have been given and a bit, as well, of what we ourselves have mixed and matched.
But seventy-five…Did I mention that I will be seventy-five my next birthday?…Seventy-five is to be almost all the way up to the top of the mountain. Or more correctly said, it is to be as far up the mountain as one can go without walking straight in the low-lying clouds that cover the upper reaches of the mountain. To be seventy-five is to be almost there.
Seventy-five is being poised–exquisitely poised, even– to enter and know the glory at last. Seventy-five is to say, “Take my hand, I’m coming in to rest a while,” and know it is true. And seventy-five is also to say, out the whole sum of one’s many, many years, “Thank You.”
I will, by the way, be seventy-five on my next birthday, God being willing.

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