There is a saying in Spanish that goes something like this: It's never too late for joy to come. People usually say this when something good, that has been hoped for a long time, finally happens: true love, a child, a dream job. There will always be a dear auntie saying these words in a second wedding. Colleagues will utter these words when all those weeks, months or even years of long office hours finally end up in a promotion. People don't use this expression for things that come by easily or fast, no matter how good they may be. This is a saying that honours persistence, effort, patience and faith. But above all, this is a saying that acknowledges time and our relation with it.
One of the problems I see with time, is the notches insist to carved on it. Many people perceive time as a yardstick over which we travel, an each number on the stick as a something that must be achieved by the time we "arrive" to it. Society, culture and family add additional meaning to these numbers: if by certain age you have done this and that, you are a success. If you have not, you are a failure, and probably will always be one.
What we believe or accept about the concept of time is pivotal for our happiness, self-esteem, spiritual and personal development. Such beliefs can inspired us to use and exploit our talents at different stages of our lives; help us find meaning and purpose; and allow us to have plentiful life. Or not.
I think part of the obstacle is that we have engraved in our minds the idea that after certain age, we have yield all our fruits, and have little, is anything, to offer. This may be true if we see ourselves as a tree. But the truth changes if we see ourselves as a garden. In Venezuela, where I come from, there are only two seasons, wet and dry, so plants, herbs, bushes and tree bloom at different times of the year. You would not expect mangoes in the guava season and surely you do not think less of the paradise bird plant if it hasn't flower when the roses perfume the air.
Maybe at certain age some of our physical and mental capacities are not what they used to be. But what we can't clearly see with the eyes, we see sharply with the experience, knowledge and wisdom we have acquire through the years. And we always have the options of vary focal lenses. Science is telling us that the body's capacity for recuperation and rejuvenation is immense, when it receives proper, loving care. So probably some of us can climb Machu Pichu if we prepare well enough. Others can take the bus. At the end, both groups will enjoy the same magnificent view and find their own personal satisfaction in the experience. The world is full of stories of people who found another path in their middle or even late years. The American actress Kathryn Joosten started to act when she was middle aged, and had won two Grammies by the time she was 60. Pulitzer prize winner, Frank McCourt, did not begin to write until he was 65.
Personally I can attest that is never too late for joy to come. At 38 I looked at the notches of time on my yardstick and it seemed I had failed to reach all the objectives expected of me. I was at loss when it came to a professional vocation. I had no real relationship with the Divine, suffered from depression, was the family's appointed "old maid" with the sad love story over my shoulders, and, medically, was considered an infertile woman. To be honest, I saw myself as waste of space.
Almost ten years later I stand here before you, about to finish my ministry training, full of projects and ideas for the future, knowing I have found my call. I have learn to rest and trust in Spirit. I have my depression under control. I am the very proud mother of a beautiful eight-year old and in a few months, I'll celebrate my tenth wedding anniversary. It took faith, it took love, it took tears, it took anger, it took forgiveness, it took compassion, it took and takes a lot of hard work -but I am here. And as I see it, my story is just beginning.
When I say that is never too late for joy to come to your lives, I not only mean it from the depth of my heart, but I know what I'm talking about it. I also know that for joy to come into my life, I had to drop my defenses and dare to trust; I had to look at those beliefs that were holding me down and decide to act, in spite of them. I had to stop forcing success to fit a particular idea and let it find its own shape. And I had to stop believing that it was too late for me.
Eventually, somewhere along this development, I saw inside of myself and found all that I had to still give: all the flowers yet to bloom, all the seeds yet to be planted. And when I understood myself to be one with Spirit, I knew that all those possibilities within me were gifts the Divine had entrusted me with, so through my efforts, my experience, my learning, my creativity, the Divine's dreams would find a form and shape in this reality. I then began to consider every step, every fall, every standing back again, as offerings to Spirit, as a bouquet of little flowers taken to the altar within my heart, for Divine's enjoyment. Then I realized the Divine is not bound by time. Each of my little flowers would smell as sweet, wherever I placed then on the altar in the winter or in the summer. And the Divine is bounty less, its offerings to me, endless, for I truly believe that Spirit's greatest desire is for me, for all of us, to live life fully, every minute, every instant of it.
One of my favorite poems is Ithaca, by Constantine Cavafy. In it, the poet describes Odysseus' voyage as metaphor for life and tell us that it is our commitment to whole-heartedly experience this journey, what constitutes true success. Cavafy literally suggests that we should hope that this trip is long and that we should be in no hurry. There are no schedules to follow; no mandatory places to visit. Nothing to do really -except be all we can be.
Sail, then, to your Ithaca and dare to dream your adventures, independently of expectations. Be the captain of your time; adapt your sails to the winds of life; change the route if you need to; learn to read the stars; find something wonderful in each new port; rejoice with each sunrise. Know that life is a privilege, to the very last minute, to that moment when our light merges with the Light of Love. Don't wait for Death; let Death wait for you, a minute or two, as when your Dad comes to pick up in the middle of the party. And when you do go, put the fruits of your experiences in a basket, and ask Death for hand, because is so jam-packed with the jewels of a life so well lived, that's is simply too heavy for only one soul to carry.
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