Tuesday, February 12, 2013

when life becomes frail

I come to you as Bishop of Rome, but also as an old man visiting his peers. 
At times, at a certain age, one may look back nostalgically at the time of our youth when we were fresh and planning for the future. Thus at times our gaze is veiled by sadness, seeing this phase of life as the time of sunset. This morning, addressing all the elderly in spirit, although I am aware of the difficulties that our age entails I would like to tell you with deep conviction: it is beautiful to be old!
(Words: Papa Benny XVI. Emphases: Mine.)

On Monday, I skipped home from lunch and a spontaneous tube ride to my flat.
The Good News: My computer was brought back to life through the powerful intercession of St. Clare.
The Bad News: I was going to be late for class (but I didn't know this yet).
The Surprising News: The Pope Resigned. (also why I was late for class.)

I skipped into my room.
Had a stare-down with my computer.
Turned the computer on.
Danced around the apartment with joy as my previously unresponsive stubborn little computer turned on. I leaped around, leaking joy from every limb.
THIS IS A GREAT DAY I cried out to my two innocent flat mates innocently sitting at the table doing homework.
YEAH! They responded, as I blabbered away at what a beautiful day it was and how great life was and why I really want to be a thirty year old with babies, a husband and a career, but I also want to be four years old and play in the backyard all day, and have my mom tuck me into bed at night, and how BEAUTIFUL it is to be living in what a wise priest once called that "creative tension." 
YEAH, responded my roommate, adding to my list of blessings of the day, AND THE POPE RESIGNED.
I stopped dead in my tracks.

It took me a while to process this news. 
I was flailing/dancing around the flat with surprise and shock for about a half an hour.
And then a roughly 36 hour period of my life commenced in which 98% of my typed words were typed in all caps.
I was living in an extremely overly-excited state of consciousness, and I didn't know how else to experience or engage with the world, except thorough all caps.
I also talked about the Pope with literally anyone who would listen: from my friends an ocean away to my new friend William-the-front-desk-guard (who was also a football [translation: soccer] player in a past life. #casual).

And as everyone reflected on what great humility and courage stepping out of the role of Vicar of Christ must have taken (as no doubt it does!) I was struck by Benedict's patience.
As a perennial impatient, I am in awe of a man who can apparently enter into each stage of life with quiet and grace.
Who can prepare for an ending without rushing towards it.
Who can realize that in order to understand what the sunrise and noontime truly are, it is necessary to experience the sunset of life just as intentionally fully.

They say youth is wasted on the young. I wonder if age is ever squandered by the aged.

Dear elderly brothers and sisters, the days sometimes seem long and empty, with difficulties, few engagements and few meetings; never feel down at heart: you are a wealth for society, even in suffering and sickness. The wisdom of life, of which we are bearers, is a great wealth. 
--Pope Benedict XVI

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