The “Middle” Ages….55

I turned fifty-five last month. I remember going to bed the night before, when I was a young fifty-four, and making a mental note of how I felt. I wanted to remember that feeling throughout the next year so that I could have a basis on which to judge any rogue 55ish feeling that would, more than likely, try to creep in on me in case I might inadvertently leave my guard down. I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, every bright light blazing down on my fifty-four year old bare body. I wasn’t going to forget one detail. This was as young as I was ever going to be. I gathered up my courage and took a look at the naked truth. The three, 100 watt vanity lights cast a garish glow down on me and I realized that I was about to be questioned by the “Age Police.”

“How old are you?”

“It’s my last night of being fifty-four.”

“Last night? Last night? Why can’t you go ahead
and round it up to fifty-five? What difference
does a few hours make?”

“Not a lot, I’m sure, but a lady’s got to hold
on to her youth for as long as she possibly

“You women are all the same! Take a long look,
then. You’ve got a few hours ’til the switch-
over. Believe me, not much is gonna change
after the magic hour of midnight.”

“I was born at 1:57 P.M. in the afternoon!
Technically, I won’t be fifty-five until 1:57
tomorrow afternoon!”

“Alright, Lady. Whatever you say. Fifty-four,
fifty-five…don’t make any difference to me.
Just don’t get all…emotional and stuff.
Nothing I hate worse than a dame who whines
about getting older…Hey, you rolling your
eyes at me? Ain’t my fault time’s caught up
with you. Happens to everybody.”

“Just shut up and give me a few minutes, will
you please? I need to do this by myself, not
with the ’Age Police’ looking over my

The interrogator shook his head and rolled HIS eyes at me.

“Whatever you say, Lady. We’ll be right
outside the door, if you need us.”

If I need them? Who needs the “Age Police” to remind them of how old they are? They close the bathroom door and leave me alone. The vanity lights become a single spotlight and I stand naked on the stage of my bathroom floor. Just a girl and spotlight…I try to think of the appropriate song for the moment…Frank Sinatra’s “My Way?”

“And now the end is here and so I face the final

No. Totally the wrong song to sing. That was a grand finale song. I wasn’t nearly at that place in life. What about John Mayer’s song, “Stop This Train?”

“Stop this train, I want to get off and
go home again.
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t but honestly,
Won’t someone stop this train?
So scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find
A way to say that life has just begun.”

I gasp. The numbers game…The new twenty is now thirty. The new thirty is really forty. The new forty-five is really fifty-five. Was that what I was doing? Playing a numbers game? Why was John Mayer so wise in his lyrics but not so wise in his personal life?

I looked at my body. Fifty-five. It could be worse. Not that bad. Sure, having six children had taken its toll. Each year had left a few scars and a bit of sagging skin, a few achy joints and a head full of gray hair. But wasn’t that what was supposed to happen?

I leaned into the mirror and studied my face. There were lines and wrinkles and a softened jaw line. I couldn’t remember what my old face had looked like…not exactly. Maybe my memory was helping me soften the blow of aging by blurring the lines all together. I stepped back and smiled. My last smile in the mirror at age fifty-four. Would it look like a different smile tomorrow at 1:57 P.M.? No, I believe it would not. Aging was too subtle to switch things up on me that fast. It was inevitable, but thank God, gracious enough to lead me gently into it’s soft, comfortable arms.

I lifted up my arms slowly, stretching upward toward the ceiling and stood on my tiptoes. I twirled around like a ballerina, ending in a deep bow before the mirror.

“Goodbye, fifty-four. You were good to me…
even kind. You brought me great peace and
joy. You were a very good year.”

I stood up, tall and straight. I knew the “Age Police” were outside waiting. Walking up to the mirror, I leaned over the sink and lightly kissed my reflection in a final farewell gesture.

“You guys can come in now. I’m ready.”

In a flash, the door opened and they were there.

“So…you’ve said your good-byes, now?”

“Yeah. You didn’t give me long. It seems like
you come earlier and earlier each year.
What’s the deal with that?

“You know why, lady. The older you get, the
faster time flies.”

How well I knew that! I pulled my night gown over my head and looked the “Age Police” directly in the eye.

“Let’s go.”

I opened the bathroom door and let him escort me to my bed, a few steps away.

“Will you do me a favor and tuck me in tonight?
I’m a bit tired from the mental process of
moving into another year. Don’t you think I’m
getting better at it? I’m learning to
gracefully give up one year and go peacefully
into the next one. Haven’t you noticed? Come
on, guys, sometimes, I just wish you would
tell me if I’m doing it right. If I’m aging

The two gruff officers looked at each other and shrugged.

“Sure, lady. Hop up…”

I got into my big bed and sank deep into my soft mattress and pillow. The “Age Police” took my cloud-like comforter and brought it up over my shoulders.

“Now, you know we’re going to go ahead and
take fifty-four with us and leave you with
fifty-five. Are you ready for that?”

“Yes. Go ahead. It doesn’t matter anyway…
I really don’t have any say-so in the matter.”

“No, lady, you don’t. But you’re doing good.
Some ladies cry, kick and scream when they see
us coming. You’re really graceful about it.
You seem to take it in stride.”

“Really? Thanks. I mean. Wow! You just
made this all a bit easier for me to handle.”

“It’s just part of our job, lady. But, hey,
thanks for the gratitude. We don’t get that

“No. I’m sure you don’t. And I can’t promise
it every year, but I’ll try.”

I peeked out from under the covers and they were gone. I don’t know how it happened again, but they had left me one year older. I thought about kicking and screaming, but it was already a done deal. I yawned and turned over, shutting my eyes. Tomorrow I would wake up to fifty-five.

I heard a train whistle blowing in the distance and I could swear I felt the gentle motion of a passenger train rocking me to sleep as it marked the time in railroad ties. I drifted off to sleep thinking, “I wish this train would stop.” But I knew I was a lifetime passenger.



The Present Part II

Two weeks ago, I posted “The Present” on my blog. I promised to give you part two this week. If you didn’t read my last post, please read it before reading this. It will make much more sense to you if you do. Thanks for waiting. Hope you enjoy it.

“Here, let me take all of this for you,” God offered, scooping the music and lyrics out of my hands and putting them back into the box. “You don’t want to lose this song. You may need to pull it out of the box later for a special occasion.” The tiny bits of paper were sticking to his hands like they had static electricity in them. He had to peel off more than a few clingy notes left on his fingers.

“So, you have questions? Let me hear them,” he prompted.

“Ok…so what you are telling me is that YOU are music and YOU write all the songs?” I ventured out a little bit further. “Even the wild and crazy stuff?” I thought about how a lot of people would be shocked if they knew about that.

“Uh huh. I write it all. All different kinds of styles…just like languages…well, it is a language. It’s one way I communicate with people even though most of them don’t realize it.”

“But how does it happen? I thought that PEOPLE write music…” My voice trailed off as my mind made room for an epiphany.

“And they do! Don’t get me wrong! When someone opens themselves to creativity, I take over and most of the time they are totally unaware. They get the ideas and subject matter all from me.”

“But how?”

“When a writer sits down to write a song, I don’t care who it is…a portal from heaven opens directly above them and I just inspire them to write exactly what I want to convey to the world. They usually think that they are writing a love song about someone or a situation they have been through – and it is, but it’s also me singing a love song to the world, to the church, or to a specific group of people that needs encouragement. Sometimes it’s a heart-felt song that becomes a prayer that the world is singing to me. It can be about anything, really. It’s one of my ways of communicating. It’s a language from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven…’It’s from me. It’s for you. It’s from you. It’s for me.'”

My heart shot a message to my brain and told me that it was true. I felt that I was being “let in” on a huge secret and that I was about to be educated in a way that only a hand full of musical scholars had been educated. The great creator of the heavens and the earth, and all that they contained, was about to explain a hidden truth to me. I was about to be taken “behind the curtain” of written music and lyrics to discover what happens that makes us love and relate to music so much.

I pictured a writer sitting down at a table, head leaning back, staring up at a blank ceiling while waiting for “inspiration” to pay him a visit. I then saw through the ceiling, up through the roof and then up into the heavens. All of a sudden, I saw a light come down from the sky, as if heaven had pulled back a dark curtain and opened a small window. The light poured down into the sky, onto the writer’s house, cutting its way through the roof and down into the ceiling, illuminating the writer in a golden pool of words and musical notes. It was as if the music box had spilled out from heaven and rained down a song over the willing writer. The writer, bathed in the swathe of creative light, all of a sudden, picked up a pencil and began to write, relief spreading across his face as the words tumbled onto the lined notebook paper. His writing session would be productive, after all, because “inspiration,” that illusive muse, had chosen him, out of every other songwriter creating at that moment, to write the one song that needed to be shared.

I gasped. “You just did it, didn’t you?”

“Did what?” God asked.

“Made a portal or opened a window from heaven over ME…because I just saw it in a vision. You showed me what it would look like if I could actually ‘see’ inspiration or creativity come down from heaven and touch someone.”

God smiled. “You’re quick. The vision just came to you in a flash, didn’t it? That’s how it is for any artist – songwriter, painter, dancer, poet, novelist, designer…It doesn’t matter. I give the natural talent and send inspiration to make it come alive, conveying my thoughts through them to the world.”

Wow! I had to have an example, a case study to make sure I was getting it right. “Can you give me an example of a song you wrote that I would know? So that I can understand this better? Like…what’s the saddest song you’ve ever written?”

Without missing a beat, he answered, “For YOUR generation and particular culture? ‘You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Lucille’”.

“Really? Why that one? What sets that one apart? There are so many sad songs.” For just a second I wondered if I was making up this entire conversation with God. Was I imagining some kind of supernatural “present” from God because I wanted one so badly? My spirit must have heard my questions because immediately it said, “No! You could never make up anything this fantastic! Listen. God’s telling you something he wants you to know.” I paid strict attention and hung onto his every word.

“It’s sad on several levels,” he began. “First, notice it’s a song about someone named Lucille. That’s your first clue. Lucille means ‘light bearer’. Always look at the names in a song. It gives a huge clue to the deeper meaning. On the surface level, a man’s wife, Lucille, has left him. The one who always brought light into his life is gone.

‘You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille.
With four hungry children and a crop in the field.
I’ve had some bad times, lived through some sad times
This time the hurtin’ won’t heal.
You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille.’

‘Light’ left him at a crucial time. He’s busy with his crops and can’t take care of his children while he’s in the fields. Naturally, he’s hurt. The absence of her light leaves him in dark despair.

“Now, let’s take the song to a deeper level. Let’s say, that there are those who consider themselves in a relationship with me. They believe that I’ve let them down for some reason or another or that I’ve promised them dreams that never came true. They get tired of holding on to their dreams and they leave me, their children, destiny and purpose, and the crop in the field; their ability to change the world around them. They leave me and everything I have to offer them before the crops are even harvested.

‘When the drinks finally hit her
She said, ‘I’m no quitter.’
But I finally quit living on dreams.
I’m hungry for laughter
Here ever after
I’m after whatever the other life brings.’

Can you imagine the overall effect of all the disillusioned ‘light’ in this world, leaving me and seeking elsewhere for comfort and personal satisfaction? These disappointed ‘Lucilles’ were intended to be light bearers but instead they put out their fire, the inner light that I put in them. It’s been heartbreaking to me. If only they could have held on a little longer, they could have had everything I promised them.”

I felt his pain hit my heart and I wanted to weep…for God and for the people disillusioned with him because of their own impatience with their struggles. It WAS a sad song indeed! I wanted to go and find all the ‘Lucilles’ in the world and tell them to hold on a bit longer, that they would get every promise God had put in their hearts. I would tell them never to give up. I thought of other songs; some old and some more recent; “Candle in the Wind,” sung by Elton John, “Light the Fire Within,” by LeAnn Rimes, “Light My Fire,” by The Doors…there were countless songs about the subject. My mind was racing with the discovery.

“Believe it or not,” God was not through with his line of thought, “there is another level of meaning to this song, if you want to go there. I had a ‘Lucille,’ too. I created him before I even created man. He WAS music, created out of things that made musical sounds and things you have never even heard of. He was the most beautiful creature I ever made. His name was ‘Lucifer,’ which also, means light bearer.”

“What happened to him?” I thought that this story seemed vaguely familiar. “Isn’t he on the earth now?”

“He IS on the earth now. But he was once with me, leading the choir of heaven, writing all the music. You would be blown away if you could have seen that. It was spectacular! We had all sorts of plans and things to do but he wanted to be me. He wanted all the power. He even organized a protest in heaven and a third of the angels in heaven joined forces with him. I finally had to make them all leave. They fell to the earth and torture mankind now. At first, it angered me. I didn’t create him for that. He was my “Son of the Morning,” my Morning Star. Now, he’s so jealous of man because man can be redeemed and he can’t. He’s really jealous of musicians, by the way. They get to do what he did in heaven. He can’t stand them. But, I suppose you can see the communication coming down from heaven to earth. I know he must detest that song.”

I was shocked. I had never thought about God having “issues” with spiritual beings that I coudn’t see. I was astounded that music was a communicator between the forces of good and evil. I didn’t know what to say.

“You’re getting it, aren’t you?” God wanted to know. I nodded my head up and down. “But the important thing is that not only that you understand it, but that it causes an emotion – compassion, to well up inside of you and calls for action to help those who need it. The energy that the melody and lyrics sent out to the ‘world’, play on your emotional heartstrings and cause you to respond in a way that would help my Kingdom be established here on earth. That’s what it’s all about, anyway…establishing my Kingdom.”

I had to take a few moments to let this revelation sink into my spirit and my soul. The window of heaven must have still been shining down on me because I could actually see the white, bright light rise up to my reasoning mind so that God could saturate it a bit with more understanding. I saw it then move down to the fine, tiny bones and inner parts of my ear, where the mysteries of sound were taken in and digested as energy with communicating capabilities. The light lingered there for awhile, for it was necessary to give my ears the ability to interpret what they heard when music and lyrics had a message for someone. The light then flowed to my eyes and bathed them in the warm energy that would enable me to “see” a person or group of people that the song had been written for. Slipping down to my mouth, the light radiated a warmth that loosened my tongue, freeing up my ability to communicate the revelation of this musical language. Lastly, the light intensified and stopped at my heart, marinating it in a kind of empathy or compassion tear bath that would be activated when the song was interpreted for someone.

I stopped seeing where the light was going. It had stopped at my heart and left me with the instant knowledge of what my present really was. The exquisite heavenly music box was only part of the supernatural gift. God had taken the wrapping paper off to show me a heavenly musical language that was intended to speak on his behalf to people who needed to feel love again and become reacquainted with their purpose. It was a just another pleasant way he communicated with man. He was making it easy for us. The problem was, though, most people didn’t recognize the language on that level. They didn’t look for the higher meaning in the lyrics.

“So…I guess you’re giving me this music gift to help people with, huh?” By this time I was crying. I always cry when I feel God in such a real way. In a way, it’s always one of the signs that he is truly speaking to me about something important.

“Yes. That’s it,” he said. You will be able to look at someone and I will put a song in your mind about them and you will tell them about it. It may just be part of a lyric or phrase, but something that will blow them away just because they will know I’m thinking about them.”

“Do you have a song for me right now?” I asked. “What do you think of me?” It took only a second for the song to come to my mind…

“Unforgettable, that’s how you are
Unforgettable, near and far.
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you does things to me
Never before, has someone been more

Unforgettable, in every way
And forever more, that’s how you’ll stay
That’s why darling it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am
Unforgettable, too.”

I laid there in my bed, tears running down my face. He “had me” at Nat King Cole. I was almost embarrassed to have the God of the whole universe think so extravagantly and lovingly about me. Is this what “the gift” did to people; take God out of a box and show them that he does relate to them in a way that they could understand?

I thought about it a long time that night. Actually, I don’t think I got much sleep. I wanted to try this gift out; see if it worked. I got up and got dressed and decided to head to Wal Mart. It would be a great place to practice my “new present.”

I got a few things I needed and stood in the checkout line. There was a man standing in front of me. “Here goes nothing,” I thought. “OK, God. What about this man? Do you have a song for him?”

I didn’t have to wait. One came to mind instantly.

“This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by…”

This man was lonely and felt like he had missed the mark somewhere along life’s way! He felt like giving up! The band, America, had him pegged. I didn’t want to talk to him, though, I wasn’t quite ready for that, yet. I just wanted to see the gift work.

I walked to the car and saw a young woman holding a little boy’s hand in the parking lot. “What about her?” I asked God. “What’s her deal?”

“Do you know the way to San Jose
I’ve been away so long, I might
Go wrong and lose my way.
Do you know the way to San Jose
I’m going back to find some piece
Of mind in San Jose.”

“Oh,” I realized. “She wants to get out of here and leave. She feels no peace here.” Burt Bacharach had her number too.

I saw a man getting out of his car. “What about him, God? What’s going on with him?”

“I get knocked down, but I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down.”

“Chumbawamba? Now, God….that’s funny right there. I don’t care who you are…but I get it. He’s from the ‘school of hard knocks’ and he’s a tough guy.”

I began to see people through the words of songs. The same window that opened over the songwriter opened over me when I wanted “to see” into someone’s soul. Life was beginning to get real interesting!

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