The occasion, a holiday party. The host, gracious. The setting, festive. The fare and libations, generous and delicious. The guests, celebrative.
At one point, I conversed with a young woman. Her countenance, open. Her eyes, attentive. Her voice and laughter, lyrical, trilling with natural ease. And then, out of the proverbial nowhere, she said, “I’m only twenty-two!”
My immediate thought: I barely remember when I was twenty-two.
My more immediate feeling: Envy.
Oh, to be young again! Not to go back and, thus, to know now what little I knew then. Rather to have more time to live aware of what I now know. Time to correct old, lingering in memory mistakes. Time to do less of what I should not have done, but did. Time to do more of what I should have done, but didn’t. Time to reclaim and refurbish my history. Time to be and to become a better me. Time.
My second thought and feeling (after deciding to depart the party-within-the-party, that is, my one-person-self-pitying-party!): Gratitude.
Grateful to God that I have life. Grateful that I have lived – through mistakes and successes, sorrows and joys – to have arrived at this…any moment in time. Grateful for a mind to think, for a heart to feel, for hands and strength to serve someone…anyone other than me. In a word, grateful to have learned, in following Jesus, how to lose my life in time, so to save it for all time.
And grateful for the young woman who marveled, “I’m only twenty-two!” Her name, Hannah. From the Hebrew verb, hanan, meaning graciousness. And that, she was. For as we continued in conversation her “only” proved to be no insouciant youthful boast, but rather a humble entrée to her inquiries about life, asking me: “What is the most important thing you have learned?” “How did you learn it?” “What use is it to you today?”
In that moment in-and-out-of-time, she was a seeker and I, an elder. I pray only that whate’er wisdom I shared was worthy (and as that discernment is hers alone, I probably never will know) in honoring the honesty of her vulnerability in favoring me with her life-questions.
© 2021 PRA