Last night I saw the film “The Age of Adaline” and was so moved by it that I’m going to see it again tomorrow. Perhaps I should wait until then to write about it, but there is so much swirling in my soul that I want to put fingers to keyboard today while things are still fresh. (Perhaps a Part Two with further reflections will come after the second viewing. We shall see.)
For anyone who hasn’t yet seen the film, there won’t be any spoilers here. The premise has been made clear in the trailers — a woman (Adaline) has something happen to her which causes her to never age. That’s it, in a nutshell. However, the complexities of this condition are played out in the film with such poignancy and grace, that at times I found myself holding my breath. I became completely absorbed in the story as I entered this woman’s world and her struggles with remaining young while her daughter ages, and time moves on. She lives through decade after decade, the same age. Her hairstyles and fashions change with the times, but nary a wrinkle or gray hair.
There are some twists and turns which I won’t share, but it all got me to thinking about the life we are given. We’re all given an “age” — a span of time with which to live out our days. I remember my brother-in-law once commented on how tombstones show the dates of birth and death with a dash in between, but what REALLY matters is “what happened in the dash.” (Thanks, Russ!) We do not know how long our “dash” will be. Adaline had to contend with being an anomaly who will never die. For the rest of us, our days are numbered.
The movie made me take a closer look at how I spend my time, what things I focus on, and if I’m making a bit of difference on this planet during my “dash.” Am I taking care of myself in body, soul, and spirit so that I can live a long, healthy, and meaningful life?
The last three months have been particularly difficult ones as I’ve been in a place of deep grief which has consumed most of my energy. My resolve to eat healthily and exercise regularly pretty much flew out the window after I moved when I began to feel the pain of leaving our home and the loss in knowing we would never have a home together again. Adjusting to living in someone else’s house has been hard. Trying to sort through all of the emotions of the divorce while our 30th anniversary looms ahead has been really hard. And while I talk a good talk about sitting in “Saturday” (HERE and HERE) I fall prey to escapism just like everyone else…binge-watching Netflix, binge-eating ice cream; numbing the pain when it becomes too hard to bear; spiritual practices going by the wayside, my Bible reading plan stalled and gratitude journal often going untouched for days on end.
As I walked out of the theater last night, I pondered the last three months and what rose up in me was, “No more!” I had become so focused on whatever I was feeling in the moment that I had lost sight of the big picture, the long view, my “age,” my “dash.” I had gotten stuck in a pit and realized it’s time to climb out.
Now I believe it is important to be fully present in the present, for that is where God’s presence is. I am a big believer in feeling the feelings as you feel them; cry hard and laugh hard. Metabolizing emotions is so important for mental and physical health. BUT…I can get so bogged down in the moment that I forget how continuing certain disciplines and practices even in the midst of the pain will only increase the healing. The short term effort will reap big results, but I lose sight of this when I am consumed with rage and sadness. Easier to turn off the alarm and roll over and sleep another two hours instead of getting out of bed and going for a walk. Easier to drive through for fast food than make a healthy dinner. So much easier to flip on the TV and numb out than to sit quietly in God’s presence and pray and feel…and heal.
Of course there is grace; I’m not expecting myself or anyone else to be perfect here. But Adaline’s plight caused me to take stock of where I am right now and I came up short. No condemnation — thanks be to God! — only a newfound appreciation of the gift of TIME, of the moments, days, weeks, months, and years of my “dash.” I don’t want to waste any of it.
So this morning, even though I was emotionally exhausted from weeping right before bed and my body felt awful from both the emotional stress and all the sugar I’d eaten the day before, I thought of how I felt yesterday after the movie and I remembered I only have a finite number of days. So I went for a walk and prayed. I came home and made a healthy smoothie. I spent time meditating on God’s goodness, even with body, soul, and spirit all in pain.
And I thought, “This is the abundant life.” It’s not happy-skippy but it is FULL and GOOD. I had an important meeting to go to in the afternoon where I knew I needed to be present and offer whatever I could to help bring some resolution to a sticky situation. I also needed to reach out and care for my son who’s across the country on an adventure that didn’t start out too well. I needed to be able to be present to others while being present to God and myself. (Ah…the old upward/outward/inward journey!) No matter the pain. No matter the internal struggle. It was a good day. And as i wrap it up, I realize I had very few moments of escaping. I want more days like these. I pray they will add up, one by one, into a really good “age” and a long, fruitful “dash.”