In golf, at the end of the game, the players come together and invariably discuss the ‘back nine’ This is usually done at the 19th hole. In basketball the players meet in the locker room at half-time and discuss strategy for the second half. Baseball players talk about the bottom of the inning. These real life situations offer a wonderful opportunity to make a comparison to our own life. Regardless where you are in life’s pilgrimage, the back nine, the second half, etc. it requires some philosophical and theological preparation. This ‘blog’ is written to provide the context for some self-examination. Where are you? Are you in control of life or is life in control of you? These are critical questions you should answer.
“everything you need to know in life is in you….
it just needs to be awakened.”
The first realization that must occur on the ‘back nine’ is to accept where your are in life. Sometimes that is extremely difficult. We have all seen the ‘cat’ who is trying to be a ‘kitten.’ Time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went.
But here it is—’the back nine’ or the ‘winter of life.’ How did I get here so fast? Where did my youth go? The ‘back nine was so far off I could not fathom or imagine fully what it would be like.
I frequently meet with friends who I have known for some time and they are retired and getting gray. They move slower and I see an older person now. I see the great change. They are not like the ones I remember who were young and vibrant…..they are like me. We are now those older folks we use to talk about and thought we would never become.
Unlike the first half or the front nine where we are seeking success, in the second half we begin to seek significance. A common comment I hear frequently is “I only want to make a difference.” Therefore, to arrive at this point the first thing I must do is acceptance of where I am in life. The cliche “bloom where you are planted” is very appropriate.
I‘m pressing on the upward way
New heights I’m gaining every day;
In my life the first thing I had to achieve was to understand that material possessions are not the root of happiness and mean absolutely nothing in your spiritual journey through life, they are only an illusion. The only thing that matters is that we continue to grow through life and live without fear of failure, judgment or even death. Once we release ourselves from those fears, we are free to embrace our own destiny.
“I was born in a time that is gone,
I was born in a world that was free….
Innocence ruled those days like a swan,
And children of Heaven had the key….
Reflecting upon previous writings I am reminded of the tri-dimensional nature-body, mind, and spirit- and realizing the body and mind grow in direct proportion to their connectivity to the spirit. Therefore during this second half I must address the total person; body, mind and spirit. Do I have a strategy to address each of these areas? What am I doing on a regular basis to maintain my body? What am I doing on a regular basis to maintain my mind and finally how do I integrate my spiritual dimension in all aspects of my life. If, you the reader, will absorb this one paragraph and contemplate a plan of action, the winter of your life will not be filled with storms.
The body: Develop a plan that becomes foundation to your life style. For me it includes a morning stretch time while still lying in bed. For about 20 minutes I do leg raises and/or cross overs. I lift my arms sometimes making circles and an array of other things that provide my body tone and stretching for the day. Walking a minimum of 15 minutes a day coupled with a healthy nutritional meal is a platform upon which the body can grow. I am extremely careful not to enter into the body any thing that changes the bio-chemistry unless it is absolutely necessary and then only after alternatives are tried.
The mind: Like the body the mental aspects are equally important. I have found technology is a great enhancer of the mind. I have joined “book bug” where I can download books for free. The same is true with the local public library. Using my Ipad I can immediately read the newspaper every morning where USA TODAY places information in capsule form. There are endless ways to enhance the mind, but you must be proactive. I have found the television to be an addiction that only takes away from mental activity and prefer to stay away from it, especially in the morning hours. I still cling to days of old and enjoy lively and stimulating conversations.
The Spirit: This is the platform from which all other activities flow. It is more than going to church. It is a relationship with your Creator and Shepherd. Only you and you alone can make this happen. On the Ipad I have an application “Our Daily Bread.” Each morning, with a cup of tea, June and I will discuss the daily reading and its application for our lives. Hardly a day goes by that morning time with God’s readings are not brought into focus in contemporary issues. Additionally, I attend a home fellowship group where we discuss and study specific topics with the primary objective to integrate Biblical truth in everyday life. These are only two illustrations that I personally use. The point being, it is part of my daily life and not an addendum added at the end of the week or for special occasion.
These three items are listed to emphasize the importance of developing a lifestyle embracing who we are.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a high school graduation where my grandson was a graduate. The speaker for the evening challenged these young people with three objectives: Stay Humble; do not think the world revolves around you. Reach out, be involved. Secondly, Stay Hungry for new things, people, events and learning. Finally, he told these young people, who were standing on the tee of the first hole of their future, to stay Holy and always do the right thing.
Whether you are on the first tee 0r the back nine the three H’s are equally applicable.