Late have I loved you, beauty so ancient and so new….And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there….You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you….You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness…you put to flight my blindness….You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.” ~St. Augustine
I am a late bloomer, and I take great comfort in St. Augustine’s finding God late in his life.
He reminds me that God’s time is not the same as our time, and God’s expectations are not the same as ours. With God, there is always time to discover God within, to gain insight and wisdom, to start something new. God continually calls us to move beyond our limited expectations.
Advent is a time of preparation for something new. It is a good time to check my eyesight—to notice where I am looking—and to review my expectations to see how they align with what God asks of me. Like St. Augustine, I can be looking outside, when God is calling me to look within.
This Advent, Elizabeth and Zachariah have caught my attention in a new way. Perhaps it is because they were advanced in years (as am I) when God did something completely unexpected and entirely new for them.
Most often, we think of the later years as a time of slowing down, doing less, taking it easy. But God brought a baby into their lives—new life with new demands and responsibilities. I imagine they were thrilled and celebrated their good fortune.
But, it could not have been easy; there must have been a period of adjustment. I imagine Elizabeth and Zachariah had to steel themselves against gossip and judgment and can picture the scene when their neighbors gathered at the well: Did you hear that Elizabeth is pregnant? At her age? What were they thinking?
Being old and doing something new can cause a few raised eyebrows and questioning looks. Really? You’re going to do what?
As if there is some old-age line that we cross and then it is time for retirement homes and rocking chairs with nothing new on the horizon.
One of my favorite books is The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein. It is the story of his young life as a Jewish immigrant in England. He wrote the book when he was in his nineties—his first book—but the story had been with him a lifetime. I love that he took a chance and dared to write and share his story.I feel like I am just growing into my own skin and coming to a deeper sense of God’s desires for my life. Like St. Augustine, Elizabeth and Zachariah—and Harry Bernstein, I want to stay open to God’s invitation to create. I want to say yes when God surprises me with something new..