It’s April. My birthday month. My new Medicare card was valid on April 1, no fooling! I’ll be 65 on the day that’s now called Earth Day. Does that mean that the earth is younger than I am since it wasn’t called that yet when I was born?
There’s a kind of order opening to me…slow, breathing, slow, release, slow, rebirth.
I didn’t have specific dreams and goals for this time of my life, but it isn’t unfolding in a way I thought or wondered it might. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been blessed in many ways, spiritually and physically. But for all of my preparing, I am not prepared for the way life is right now. I got a degree that would help me make a living in case my husband died when my children were young. I was four when my father died; my mom was already a nurse, and she provided for my sisters and me.
My desire to write was fulfilled to a degree when I published two books related to ministry. But at age 50, we knew that we wouldn’t be in pastoral ministry much longer because my husband has a progressive, terminal disease, ALS. I became what I never thought I could be–a caregiver. It’s not that the middle part of my life was wasted at all, and it’s truly not that I haven’t been prepared for that role in any way, but my road of preparation has been unusual.
Although I became a Christian when I was young, all that I have learned about God has been on the long, slow journey. That’s good when it comes to unpeeling parts of life that need slow, deep breaths and tears to process.
Slow is the journey to feel what I’ve held in or held at bay–slowly releasing habits I thought were important. Regular schedules released. Let go. Surrendered to reality. Beginning to feel resigned to the inevitable, now released in part for rebirth of my inner being. That’s slow, too. I’ve been able to accept the slowness because of a phrase I’ve heard consistently in the last six years; my yoga teacher says, “Take the long view.” That’s the best way for me to see life, even though of course I don’t know how long the long view is! I look at some friends who are old enough to be my parents, and can easily say, “I want to be like them when I grow up!” That’s one goal, one hope I have.
I’ve recognized that I’ve been “dissolving” expectations, the need to control, dreams (i.e., to finish knitting a summer sweater started nearly four years ago), without believing that this life is a result of my being punished for feeling that caregiving was “put upon” me. Our friend Kristyn Getty wrote in a song that says in part, “So I will go wherever He is calling me, I lose my life to find my life in Him; I give my all to gain the hope that never dies.” I sense rebirth in seeing small ways that I am still becoming better equipped to be who I am called to be for now. I’m becoming more patient, less judgmental, more able to see myself in a way that allows me to be hopeful.
Hope has not been an easy word to use, except that I do have a solid foundation that includes hope of eternal life; it includes the hope that new challenges will be used by God to bring beauty out of my life, even though there are times when I feel confined, restrained, although I can’t say that I often feel alone. I’m not alone physically or spiritually. My husband needs me and I feel privileged to be able to help him. He has loved me well, allowed me to grow emotionally and spiritually at my own pace without demanding any more than that. I’m not a perfect caregiver. I was very happy to hear from a professional recently that there are no perfect caregivers – what a relief. So I’ve released that expectation of myself, slowly.
On Earth Day, I may just laugh in the realization that I’m slowly being recycled, slowly rebirthed with a bit more wisdom in the release.
Lorna Dobson has been a Christian since she was in grade school. She and Ed have been married almost 42 years, blessed with 3 children and 6 grandchildren. A former piano teacher, church musician, and sometimes writer, she hopes to try some artistic development in basic flower arranging and drawing, as an outlet for inner growth.