In a gentle way, you can shake the world
? Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

This time of year on the Highveld is actually really beautiful.  The days become milder and the light takes on a softer glow.  The change in colour of the leaves into the magnificence of gold, orange and yellow is a sight to behold. Take a drive down Voortrekker road (Ermelo) in April and allow the beauty of Autumn to lift your spirits.


It is my personality to dread what is coming instead of enjoying what is now.  It has been a great learning curve for me to unlearn that which comes naturally to most.  Life presents us with much opportunity to focus on the bad instead of on the beautiful.


It is at this time of my life (50) with my parents in the autumn of their lives that I reflect in gratitude on my life so far. I give thanks to God for giving me the opportunity to learn and prepare for my eventual old age. I believe parents are chosen by God to teach that, which is most important.  Through my parents I have learnt life lessons that have brought me to my present life of true happiness.     


My parents certainly are not perfect, and nor am I. Essentially we are all human beings who make mistakes and behave in less than perfect ways. 


Autumn gives us the opportunity to make preparations for the inevitable Winter.  In Ermelo we stock up with wood, we clean the fireplace chimney and unpack the Winter clothing. As with the cycles of nature, the cycle of life brings the unavoidable challenges of age.  God willing, in our Autumn years, most are still physically able to take care of themselves and be independent. This is the time to reflect, complete, forgive and let go, so that we can make space for the time to become still in appreciation for however much time is still gifted to us by God. It is my wish, when I am older, that I will be able to look with gratitude for what I did have, for what I did experience, instead of all the imperfections/mistakes of my life.  We can choose the life attitude we live by. Even if many daily experiences are frustrating, and irritating, we can still choose to not get stuck there, shift our gaze and find that which is inspiring and beautiful.


Some life partners are blessed and have the privilege of growing old together. This brings opportunities to reach a place of peace with each other, find acceptance of what is and what was.  To forgive each other for all the failures and short comings.  To forgive each other for all the disappointments and wrong doing.  Forgiveness is God’s water which sets us free and washes clean. Letting go of the less than perfect aspects and instead, remember all the wonderful times, the achievements and the blessings that life did bring. Perhaps remember and tell the other, what you do appreciate and cherish, and what has been a life worth sharing.


I am reading the book ‘Cross Roads’ (The Shack)  by Paul Young.  The symbolism of our ‘inner garden landscape’ that we create in our life time really struck me.  Through life experiences we form what we believe is the TRUTH.  It may actually not be The Truth, but we believe this to be true.  Although ideally one should early in life be aware as to what inner landscape you are creating – the Autumn time of our lives is a blessing and opportunity to look within and clean up, make order (forgive), and possibly do a little bit of landscaping work. (At least as much as the rigidity of old age allows…..)

Old age is not a right, but a God bestowed gift.  Many a loved one has been plucked in the prime of their life and will never have the opportunity of finding this gift.  We do not understand the way of God, but with Trust and Faith know that all is as it should be. 


If we are blessed to grow old with our life partner, the one may be in less than good health, the other may be challenged by fading clarity of mind.  Each situation is unique.  The common ground seems to be physical discomfort and pain. There is very limited dignity in pain.  Pain seems to override everything.  Ability to think, ability to function, and general living becomes difficult in so many ways. The ultimate challenge may be PATIENCE and KINDNESS.  To accept that we are growing old and manage as best we can, one day at a time, with dignity and respect, with gentleness and kindness, is truly admirable. I wish there was a miracle fix out there. I wish I could take the pain away.  Sooner rather than later we need to come to terms with what is, and accept that managing our ageing as best we can, is all we can do.  The body is shutting down, we need to manage this stage of the life cycle with as much dignity as possible.


GROWING OLD GRACEFULLY takes my breath away - it is a beautiful thing. With so many limitations and so many challenges, yet still appreciating life.  Witnessing the love between two old people is truly a privilege.   The softness in which two old people can be together in the acceptance, each in the others’ limitations. I pray that I may be gifted with growing old with my beloved husband, and that I will find the kindness in my heart and be treated with kindness in return, no matter how challenging it may be.


Not long after the Winter settles and you brace yourself to endure the last years of your physical life, may you know that you are loved unconditionally and be free from fear, to join those who have gone before.


“ Honour thy father and thy mother”

May God bless you to GROW OLD GRACEFULLY.


Karin Engman       Life Coach and Motivational Speaker       072 1896951

Embracing Autumn  
Growing old with Grace
written by Karen Engman, 12 February 2013 
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