This morning on, our walk, my dog Maggie and I walked by our neighbor Tom Martin’s yard. He’s the kind of neighbor who wins City Beautification awards. (I’m not.)
Tom has a new young Japanese maple planted in his yard.
You know that feeling you get when you see a little puppy? I had that feeling upon seeing his new plant. Japanese maples are my favorite shrubs. I’ve planted five and have six at my home.
A-few-years-old Japanese maple growing in my yard.
As Maggie and I completed our walk, I reflected on how pretty young things are. And I almost wished I could keep them that way–saplings, puppies, me. But I thought of the majesty of my other Japanese maples.
Japanese maple over twenty years old.
Japanese maple around 18 years old.
The red one has been pruned several times, but the green one hasn’t. They’re gorgeous, if you like that sort of thing (which I do).
And I thought about how enjoyable an older dog is–less work, more companiable. Puppies are delightful in all their stages of life, but there’s nothing like an older dog.
I also thought about President Uchtdorf’s talk entitled “The Gift of Grace.”
President Uchtdorf says we weren’t meant to stay in or return to Eden. We’re meant to progress. And we’re going to get pruned.
Years ago, Elder Nelson gave a talk on aging. He said, “The aging process is also a gift from God, as is death. The eventual death of your mortal body is essential to God’s great plan of happiness.”
What I remember most about it was that he said, or implied, that if we didn’t age we wouldn’t want to die.
I’m aging. Sad truth. I don’t like some of it, but there are things I appreciate about being older. I can’t say I’m more beautiful, but I’m kinder. Like the Japanese maples in the photos, I’m more apt to give shelter than censure. My interests, abilities, and influence spread farther than I realize. And I would never consent to return to the state of ignorance I once enjoyed (ignorance was bliss).
However, I feel old. I feel big. My body is yet capable of more movement than my current girth allows. My hip joints hurt and I have to move carefully. Part of me remembers physical youth–even as recently as a few years ago’s youth–and misses it.
Why does this tell me there is a God? Because there’s no logical reason why we shouldn’t go on and on and on. Our bodies are capable of rejuvenation. They renew themselves within a seven-year period. I’m a reasonably healthy, fairly uninjured person. I’m clever, accomplished, and eager to do more. Why can’t I go on living as a youngster? Because God says no.
I’m OK with that. As painful and uncomfortable and unattractive as aging is, I trust God. I know He’s trustworthy. I know it. And I know He’s got the whole world in His hands. We’re safe with Him.