Jesus is the best example I know of someone who cared for the people around him with no concern for himself or how it might look to others. He didn’t wat until it was convenient to help someone, in many cases he actually went out of his way to talk to someone or to help them. He broke protocols to care for people on days when it was illegal. When his disciples said “it is too much,” he said: “come.” Jesus never brought shame on a person for their circumstances—he asked questions and spent time listening to them. He walked with them and told them it would be better with him. He willingly came to the mentally ill (demon possessed), the untouchables (the hemorrhaging woman and lepers), and the ones living in sin (the woman at the well, the tax collector).
I spent a good portion of my life searching for meaning and understanding about my life and the world in which I live. I tried everything—sex, drugs, rock & roll, with a trip into the cultic world of Scientology. I would like to think I was a ‘free spirit’ but in reality, I was simply lost. I grew up feeling invisible and kept hoping I would be noticed. Only problem with that kind of search is that I was noticed by all the wrong people in all the wrong ways.
In the business world I searched for some measure of success. Initially I just wanted a job to pay for my car and to get out of my parent’s house. I wanted to find some credibility after my California years of living free—except for the trapped in Scientology part! I went to work where I was told to work and I made a decent living, met a husband, and a few lovers along the way. Sex, drinking, and party party became the new mantra.
Singleness can be defined as simply “living without a spouse.” We are single for many different reason—some by choice and some through circumstances. One thing I have found to be true with many of the singles I have spoken with, is that single does not have to mean lonely or that we are living without purpose. Just because we do not have a spouse or partner does not mean that we have to be trolling the bars looking for love or sitting home alone with nothing to do.
We come to our singleness from many pathways. We are the young who have yet to meet that first true lasting love of our life. We are the never-marrieds who are desperately hoping that God will provide a mate for us. We are the divorced, weather by our choice or by someone else’s actions. We are the widowed who love our spouses and are content that we had that “one great love.” And some of us are single by choice—the ones who have dedicated their lives in service to others with no strings attached.
Whether you are an early boomer or a late boomer, I think it is a fair assumption that we are a generation looking back and wondering how we ever got where we are today. Some of us hang onto our hippy roots and others have suited up and left Woodstock far in their past. No matter where you have been, it is the now that matters the most. Even as we contemplate our purpose and life-vision for the retiring years of our lives, it is what we do today that will make the difference in our tomorrow.
Solomon writes about his life journey—the riches and success he gained only to be left feeling empty. He tried pleasure-seeking, only to become more distraught by the lack of joy in his life and the rut he now found himself living. I mean this is the guy who worked hard at finding happiness and yet he still struggled to find happiness in his circumstances. He had it all, and still he felt as if he had nothing. Ever feel that way? I know I have.
Have we missed the splendor of God’s earth?
Sunrise gongs the rush to work,
Wind in our hair; combs set to repair.
Rivers running to the sea: only bridges to destinations.
Pleasure distorted in success.
Day in; day out
Sunrise to sunset.
Patterns lived without living.
Missed delight for opportunity.
Forced annual enjoyment;
With minds distracted.
Beauty taken for granted.
Missed joy in being.
New this; new that
Propel us forward
The things we hold
While peace slips away.
Revolution of our days,
Turning over again and again.
Harbored misery and discontent
While calm eludes us.
Imagined peace realized.
Newfound reason for the day.
Old things pass away.
New growth made fresh.
New reason for being.
Found in God’s splendor this day.
(Inspired by Ecclesiastes Chapter One
I have heard it said that the way a person decorates their home is a reflection of the things that are most important to them. For the past year my walls have been bare except for some sports memorabilia and a few crosses hung in my office area. The only thing I hung in my bedroom was a gift from a friend who lives on the other side of the world. Our furnishings too have been sparse. My home has been a true reflection of the empty slate of my life. It is a reflection of the somewhat aimlessness state of my being as I have prayed and sought God’s desires for my life in these post-retirement years.
This time last year I was homeless. I had packed up the belongings I felt I needed or those few things that I wanted to hold onto out of sentiment. I had given family, friends and neighbors who were in the process of resettling some of the things they needed for their homes. I threw away gobs of unnecessary clutter. And I gave everything else to charity. And then I packed my bag and left for the sunny skies of California to contemplate my future. I had no idea if I would return home to Virginia and even if I did, I wasn’t sure I would find a place to live that I could afford. It was unsettling to have no place to call home and no idea what I was going to do with my life.
I admit—I have no earthly clue how much gray I have under all this hair color. I see hints of it every month or so and I rush out for the latest hair coloring product that promises to wash the tints of silver away. I, like many women, started coloring my hair when I was much younger and it has become a habit now. Although I will tell you, I once told my daughter I was going to let my hair grow in just to see how gray I really am and she was horrified. “Oh nooooo, you can’t do that. People think you are so much younger than you are,” she said. So I keep on hiding the gray.