We are spending the week with my eighty something year old mother in snowy upstate New York. We kid with her that we are on "grandma time". She moves very slowly. We linger over coffee at Tim Hortons (a place she loves to go) for an hour. Lunch may take an hour and half. Dinner with prep and clean up easily three hours. It takes some getting used to. A trip to the local grocery store is a marathon in slow motion. She likes to look at things. She needs little and could not remember a list if she had one but she buys a few things. She likes to get out. She likes to have people with her. She likes to talk about her life. She nods off as we watch season one of Downton Abbey on dvd telling us later she got the gist of it.
I've been reading Ecclesiastes this week. I have shared some of the wise writers observations on aging with her. She nods in agreement. She knows what the writer means. Better than I although I am understanding more I think. Joan Chittister refers to the way Ecclesiastes sees life as fluid. Life is lived in seasons not in a straight line so it cannot be grasped and it's not a product to be perfected or improved upon. It is lived in one season to the next; it comes out of nowhere. We learn as we go - not to fight it or complain about it or try to change it: the meaning of it is found in the present moment. Life is not lived with a measuring stick in mind. How are we doing compared to what. Letting go is wise and we don't count up losses.
I have been trying to engage the present more. Today is what we have, a gift from God. Being where we are instead of where we are going or where we have been or thinking about what we could be doing if we were not here. Being "here", Chittister observes, may be the secret to living fully, living well. It takes a lot in this culture that is so much about what's next; we miss often what is right in front of us. While we are waiting for life, it passes us by.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything under heaven. This week we are in Mom's time. It is our time, too. It is good to be here, together.