'The antidote to complaining is thanksgiving' (Pam Hinkelman)
Getting old happens so gradually that most of the time you're completely unaware of it until you try something physical that used to be easy and realise you can't. Or don't even attempt it in the first place in case you break something. The realisation usually arrives slowly - with a vague but growing awareness that things used to be different, but you can't remember EXACTLY what or how they changed. My most recent example of this involves sitting on the floor.
The bit in between is a doddle. I get down there and up again with minimal effort. I can even do those pilates exercises where you stand up from a cross-legged position without using your hands and when you lunge suddenly into a squatting position from a kneeling one by flipping your ankles against the ground. I am a good sitter down and stander upper.
I also really like sitting on the floor, but this is no longer comfortable for long periods of time.
When did this happen? Somewhere in between teaching babies to crawl & sweeping under the table after EVERY meal (circa 2001) and Soul Survivor 2017 - a 4 day youth festival with NO seating in the main arena. The lack of seating arrangements might have been OK if leg room allowed you to wiggle around a bit, but we were crammed in pretty tight. Some people in the crowd had these old people back rest things:
I internally mocked these on day 1. But by the start of day 4, I was wishing I owned one.
But day 4 is the last day! And then I get to sit in a car for 3 and a half hours and drive home. Which will be a welcome relief - even though the whole car smells like something died in there. (I don't know the cause yet, but semi skimmed milk got spilt in the boot during a tip run last week and the car's been parked in direct sunlight with the windows up for most of the time since then).
Between the mysteriously stinking car and the packing and sitting on the floor, I'm not in a place to focus on the worship that's about to happen. I'm feeling empathy for farm animals that spend their whole lives in similar conditions and briefly consider vegetarianism.
Then the guy in front of me shuffles forward slightly giving me more leg room - Hurray!
THEN he immediately lowers his whole upper body back to the floor so I have even less room than I started with. His head brushes against my calf and he doesn't notice or apologise when I move out the way. Annoying.
He's not a small bloke either. I calculate maybe 2 and a half people could sit in the space he's now occupying. Grrrrr.
I watch him lie at my feet. Eyes closed. Completely still. His complexion is quite ruddy, now that I'm studying his face. He looks worn out. His eyes are still closed and he frowns slightly, his lips parting as he breathes in and out. He's maybe 20 years older than me.
I'm suddenly more concerned than annoyed. He's probably fed up with all the floor sitting too.
I nudge his shoulder and ask 'Are you OK?' He opens his eyes and smiles, 'I'm fine thanks. Just praying - I've got such a heart for these young people' (he gestures towards his group).
'Oh - as you were then - and Amen to whatever you're praying!' I say.
Oh. Dear. God. I am an awful person.
The band starts right after this and we're all on our feet. This bloke gets up with a bounce. He is also a good stander upper.
The music is loud and the bass pounds in our chests. The bloke in front of me worships in sign language. I've seen others do this, but have never found it so beautiful. A mix of 8000 teenagers and youth leaders worship together with no distinction.
Thank God for Soul Survivor and the lives that have been affected and changed by it over the years.
Thank God for Mike Pilovachi.
For his humour and sacrifice and willingness to plough into the lives of other people.
Thank God for this bloke in front of me, who loves his youth group.
Thank you that he's given his time to even be here.
Thank you for every sacrifice he's ever made - especially the hidden stuff like sitting on the floor way longer than is comfortable.
Thank God for my own church family.
For all the people we do life with on a regular basis.
For those who love my kids and talk to them when they can't or don't want to talk to me or K.
Thank you that we get to sing and feel alive because we are alive.
Thank you x