Reflections on turning 80

Spiritual Seekers, Don Murray

Published on January 10, 2014

Is it my imagination or are the mornings a little brighter at 7 a.m.?

We have been in the deep freeze, we have chipped the ice off our windshields, we have shoveled huge mounds of snow. Enough of winter. But there just may be light at the end of tunnel. It is still a long haul till the warmth of spring, but the lengthening days assure us that it is coming. 


Life, too, has its seasons. After celebrating my 80th birthday I am in a reflective mood. It was a grand celebration. Thirty-one of us gathered at the Glengarry for the occasion, all part of the family. It has been 30 years since all my offspring were together for Christmas. They gathered from Vienna, Winnipeg, Toronto, Summerside and Halifax. Add to that, five partners, children, a cousin and family. Then there is Emily’s three, their partners and children, all living within an hour’s drive, and the gathering becomes quite impressive. For Emily and I to have our families all together was a warm and satisfying experience. We are blessed.  


When you see 80 on your birthday cake it strikes you that the years have passed and you have indeed joined the over 80 club. Life is always a crapshoot but when you get to this stage it becomes more so. This could be the wrap-up decade. And that is fine. To have lived for 80 years and be in reasonably good health is a great privilege, whatever the future may hold. 


The usual advice at this stage of life is that one should be thinking about and preparing for heaven or eternity. I must confess that such thoughts do not weigh heavily upon my mind. I am more concerned with doing my best with life here. I hope that I have grown through the course of the years and that my life offers something of value to the world and to the yearning consciousness of the Universe.


I believe the goal of life is to become as whole and mature as you can. Life may be full of mistakes, failures, roads not taken, a squandering of time and energy and all sorts of things that make life incomplete. Life will also have its blessings, accomplishments, joys, etc. It is important to find the threads that weave it all together and make it into a whole piece of cloth, whatever its blemishes and shortcomings may have been. Our task is to become the person we were born to be and to share who we are and what is ours to do in the world. 


Only a few have a grand vision of what their life is about. Most of us muddle along doing our job and dealing with everyday life. And that is actually the way be become the person that is in us to be. For the most part we don’t grow by trying. Becoming more whole, mature, conscious and all the things that make for a quality person is a side effect of dealing with the responsibilities and challenges that life brings to us or we choose to take on. 


It is very important to accept and celebrate one’s life as whole and complete, in spite of all the misadventures along the way. To do so is especially challenging for those whose lives are cut short through disease or tragedy. We think of the multitudes that through war, oppression, poverty and social circumstances have had little chance at life. However, for those of us who have had the opportunity to be present to the ages and stages of life there is a feeling of contentment, fulfillment and completion that leaves us with no concern for the future. 


As I enter this roundup time of life I am profoundly thankful for the blessings the passing years have brought me. As I write this, Emily is composing “Come home to yourself, love.” And that is what life is about. In coming home to ourselves we come home to all that is, including the spiritual reality – God, if that image speaks to you. 


I am in no hurry. I still have things to do. I enjoy the richness of my life; my partner Emily, our families, playing the fiddle, singing in Emily’s choir, writing. However, whatever lies ahead, know that I have known the glory. I have made great strides in coming home to myself. What more could one ask?


Don Murray is a retired united minister. He lives in Shortts Lake.