Feeling Fifty

Since I’m celebrating a Milestone birthday this week, I have been thinking about what kind of posture I’d like to hold through this threshold.  50 feels significant, is significant, so I invited friends to join with me in a project which one participant dubbed a fun, art making virtual birthday party.  I would have been happy with a few, but including myself there were 16 happy souls, willing to be inspired by the prompt: Old Growth Reaching; New Growth Rooting.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing their creations here with thoughts on their creative process (under the category Project 16/50) but let me kick off the virtual party by sharing my own poem prompted by the approach of this threshold and the prompt above.

Fifty slow breaths
pulse through fifty years,
through rings of growth

alive as the child I was
chasing older others,
making, mixing, experimenting
in craft and costuming,
and a game begun of seek and hide
with Mystery, The One who finds.

alive with youthfulness I had
drafting ten year plans –
How to be the who I should,
doing it strong and right and good;
Rewritten, a death; Rerouted, a union;
then, A Holy Mess, and sorrow.

alive as the woman I am
surprised now by fire in the belly
that does not consume, a womb,
a furnace, a personal Pentecost,
lit from within, sustained
and gifting

breath for fifty more?
Maybe or not, but here’s my yes
to keep me reaching.

© 2017 – Laurel Archer

Above image: Lit from within
Tulip from my front yard

This poem is partly a distillation of a meditative exercise I used just trying to let the fact I was turning 50 sink into me.  I sat down to silently take 50 slow breaths.  My thought was only to get a more embodied sense of ‘how many is 50’ but rather quickly in, my mind began to gather up memories of childhood as I counted numbers.  Surprised but curious I leaned into the exercise, slowing opening up to my teen years and my 20’s, letting significant snapshots rise in my mind’s eye.  The whole exercise was eye opening, but two seasons of my life stood out more strongly than the others and were accompanied by strong sensations.  The breaths matching the years 32, 33, 34 which include my daughter’s birth and both children’s diagnosis with autism were matched by emotions of sadness and sorrow, so strong that I was a little overwhelmed.  And then the final breaths, my recent years, 46, 47, 48, 49 were accompanied by an equally strong sense of a fully stoked furnace, which seemed to be at the heart of a large building, doing its work well.  The emotion was of growing confidence and strength rising.

At this threshold of 50 I am grateful for the way God moves in us, using all that happens in our lives to rebirth us into the next season that awaits.  For me the beauty of this exercise was in the pairing between these sensations — one full of sorrow which has formed and shaped me and one rising up not to extinguish the reality of the other, but strong enough to accompany it, maybe even harnessed to be lived out in a new way in the years to come.

Breathing into the next season,


4 thoughts on “Feeling Fifty

  1. Laurel…Your poem…so beautiful and clear. I especially liked the phrase, “a game begun of seek and hide with Mystery, The One who finds..” …very encouraging,

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