Now that I am “a person of a certain age”—a gentle euphemism for “older person”—I am aware how much leaking is going on these days. I’m talking personally here, not about political machinations but about the many ways in which my older adult body and spirit don’t hold together as tightly as they used to. My drooping facial musculature allows more drooling, allergies tell my sinuses to flow freely, worry-filled words escape my brain too easily and various bodily organs occasionally seep. I weep at worship and I want to share inner thoughts with almost anyone, sometimes inappropriately. Come to think of it: Even the insides of my eyeballs seep fluid! I am leaking and a leaker.
If you think that this is embarrassing, you’re right. I was raised to be a private person, to shun discussions of bodily functions or disfunctions and to keep a tight upper lip about most things—including my feelings and my faith. As a Sphinx-like church professional, I have prided myself on keeping a stone face when I’m turned towards the public. That’s why I’m not proposing that leakiness should be a sought-after trait for other persons of a certain age.
At the same time, it seems that leaks will continue to be part of my life. I won’t be able to hide my emotions, hold back tears or stop snuffling in the presence of pollen. I will continue to yield to emotion-sapping anxiety and not fully control my relaxed facial muscles when dozing. Realizing this, my question shifts slightly: How do I consider my leak-prone life, and what can I do about it?
“Let go and let God!” comes to mind almost immediately, perhaps with a new twist. “Letting go” might be another way of saying that leaking is okay, natural, to be expected and not embarrassing. “Letting God” is always true, too—giving over to God’s providence what’s always been there. Depending on God to take care of this part of my older adult life. Trusting that God loves me—and that Christ’s example invites others to love me as well, in spite of leakiness of any kind.
I take comfort in thinking of Jesus as a kind of “leaker.” He wept real tears over Lazarus’ death. He cried about the eventual fate of the entire city of Jerusalem. He bled his lifeblood for our sake. He shared his deepest thoughts without worry about over-revealing his inner self.
Another, post-Easter thought also helps here: Rescue, redemption and resurrection occur in small places in my life. So my leaky eyeballs—dealing with wet macular degeneration—are given new life because of nearly miraculous injections. Kleenex® cleans up the tears-at-worship. Conversations with friends help me to redeem my blabbering and blubbering with deep listening. Any number of personal hygiene products keep me clean and dry where it counts. Perhaps most importantly, admitting that I leak can help me discard any false notions of perfection or acceptability, always helpful for an accurate self-image.
All of this assembles into the small-proof reality that my life can continue in spite of leaks. That my well-being is dependent on attributes that are far more significant—like friendships, laughter, love and forgiveness. That even persons of a certain age can be fresh and vital and new. That resurrection in small ways precedes my final glorious restoration to eternal life.
So, if you are also a leaky person of a certain age, take heart: Life can still be good.
(To receive these entries as they are posted, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three parallel lines or three dots. Scroll down to the form and enter your information.)