“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
- Psalm 90:12
Cowgirl, our beloved blue heeler, age sixteen-going-on-seventeen, was once as swift afoot as any dog I’ve ever seen. But nowadays crippled with arthritis and limited stamina she struggles to walk around the block. Happens to all of us, doesn’t it? In fact, it is indisputable that as we age – I’m talking about all living creatures – we slow down, we simply don’t move as fast as we once did. I know it to be true because I’m experiencing it myself, not to mention being painfully aware that it will be a progressive decline.
But there is something about aging that has caught me by surprise, a grace about it which I did not expect, that offers with it an amazing joy. It seems to have piqued my awareness of life’s brevity and the importance of making the most of the time I have left, though not in an urgent way nor with feelings of sadness; rather with a sense of adventurous excitement, and a clarity of purpose. I notice that about Cowgirl too. While she may not chase rabbits, squirrels and tossed tennis balls like she once did, she remains vitally interested in sniffing out the smells left by the other critters in the neighborhood. In other words, taking time to slow down and smell the fireplugs.
Simon and Garfunkel delivered a great message about this in their 1966 hit “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)”: “Slow down you move too fast / You got to make the morning last / Just kicking down the cobblestones / Looking for fun and feeling groovy.” Might their lyrics be suggesting that in our hard-charging workaholic culture we are going so fast that we’re missing out on the joy?
It begs the question, is aging God’s little prank he pulls as a way of teaching us, as the Psalmist wrote, to number our days? For sure, aging does force us to tap on the brakes. The surprise comes in that when we do what awaits is an unimaginable sense of joy, feeling groovy as the song says.
Cowgirl, through her zest for life and graceful aging has inspired me to number my own days, to be thankful for what I have, and to continue to gain and give and love all I can, but at a manageable pace. Live like that, she’s teaching me, then “All is groovy.”