“If I’d known that getting old was going to be such a financial boon, I would have got here sooner!”
I enter a new decade this year. Come May, my fifties will be behind me. I’m told I will be able to apply for early CPP. I’m not sure if that excites me or not. I haven’t crunched the numbers to see if it’s a wise thing to do. I need to have a chat with my financial advisor some day—when she isn’t out shopping for the grandkids.
What I am excited about, though, is all the money I’m hoping to save when I turn 60. I can see already that my calendar is going to be booked solid. The Bay, Rexall Pharmacy and M&M Meat Shops all offer discounts to the 60-plus crowd one Tuesday a month. Then there is seniors day at the Bulk Barn on Wednesdays and at Shoppers Drug Mart on the last Thursday of every month. I can celebrate my birthday this year with a large coffee from McDonald’s for only 85 cents, then cross the road to get 10 per cent off my Grandpa burger at A&W. I will be able to take a ride on VIA Rail, stay at half a dozen different hotel chains, rent a car, and do my banking—all at discounted rates. If I’d known that getting old was going to be such a financial boon, I would have got here sooner!
To be truthful, there have been times over the past 10 years when, if I could have, I might have pushed the fast forward button on my 50s.
A friend spoke at our church during this past Advent season on the topic of hope. He told us that this coming year, he would be turning 50. In the spirit of his topic that day, he said he hoped his 50s would be a better decade than his 40s, as he had faced some significant challenges in the past 10 years. What I thought—but didn’t have the heart to tell him—was that I looked forward to seeing my 50s in the rear-view mirror for the same reason.
The losses of the past decade have been significant for me. If I dwell in them, they exact a heavy toll on my heart. If I keep too close company with them, they paint a pretty sombre landscape of the past 10 years.
When I step back for a wider view, though, the landscape brightens. Brushed across the sombre backdrop of grief are dazzling strokes of colour. Grandkids arrived, new friends were made, and old friends grew more treasured. New employment offered newfound satisfaction, and unsettledness in some areas of life led to deeper settledness in others. Although I have no way of knowing, let alone controlling, what my 60s will bring, I’m walking into them with hope.
It has been many years since we stopped publishing theme-based issues of testimony
. But by coincidence—or design beyond our control—four of the six feature articles in this issue touch directly or indirectly on the theme of hope. Bob Jones reviews Sue Keddy’s recently published memoir, Living Without Jim
. It is the story of her husband Jim’s sudden death and her subsequent journey through the darkest days of her life. Michael Voll’s story, From Broken to Better
, is rooted in the tragic death of his wife, Sheri. If you are looking for answers, neither of these stories will be of much help. But if you are in the market for some hope, I encourage you to read them. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
is Susan Baxter’s story of being in what felt like a hopeless place in her life and discovering she was not. As a licensed grief counsellor, David Kennedy interacts every day with people in need of hope. In Begin With Goodbye
, he points out that endings—no matter how difficult they are—also offer the hope of new beginnings.
My friend’s hopes for his 50s—and mine for my 60s—may or may not materialize. In fact, I’m not even sure either one of us could articulate what it is we’re hoping for. More happiness and less trouble? More laughter and fewer tears? I hope not. Hope needs deeper roots than that. Ultimately, hope is what we have in Christ. Hope is what, in Frederick Buechner’s words, “… lies at our hearts and … finally brings us all here. Hope that in spite of all the devastating evidence to the contrary, the ground we stand on is holy ground because Christ walked here and walks here still. Hope that we are known, each one of us, by name, and that out of the burning moments of our lives he will call us by our names to the lives he would have us live and the selves he would have us become. Hope that into the secret grief and pain and bewilderment of each of us and of our world he will come at last to heal and to save.”1
Now that is something worth hoping for.
1. Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), 81.