Body to Seed

We were having dinner at one of our very best spots– an Amish family restaurant out yonder. They had pitched up a huge tent outside on account of Coronavirus, with each table set far apart.

The open-air dinning surrounded by fields of green and buggies going clippity-clop was simply earth’s song rising to meet us.

The lady who waited on us was genuinely friendly, kind, not pretentiously over-enthusiastic.

It seemed to me you couldn’t be unhappy around her, and if you were, she would probably wipe it off your brow with her apron. Her Amish bonnet crowned her sure step as she made her way through the tables with a sense of belonging. She might have been the owner, or not.

When she came around to bring dessert, my husband told her I had just turned 50. She went- Ooh! And gave me a bright-eyed grin. Then she said- I turn 56 next month! We wished her an early happy birthday.

After she left, we both looked at each other. I said it first- Good thing she didn’t ask us to guess her age because I would have said 65. Yup! Preston agreed. I grew up in a culture where aging was a badge of honor, even carried with an air of superiority. America is different. But then the Amish lifestyle in America seems a lot closer to African life.

The English, as the Amish call non-Amish people, are terrified of aging. English culture is somatocentric. This means the human anatomy is supreme and its attributes determine your place in society– skin color, size of body parts, muscle, height, hair texture… 

Should the skin wrinkle up too soon, thankfully, they have discovered botulinum toxin for temporary erasure of the aging process.  Who knows, I may use it someday… Oh, heck, photoshop hacks will take care of it. But I’ll keep my royal crown of grays as they populate my head.

The lesson at 50 is that there’s the body, and there’s the soul, and only the body ages. It must wither and go to seed to nourish the earth someday. It’s never one’s length of earthly life that matters; it’s the quality of life lived. I long lost respect for the pursuit of longevity for its own sake.

Our waiter’s face may have aged up too fast it seemed to us, but on the inside she was ageless. I know wrinkled souls. They sag and sigh and dim another’s light. Her soul had no wrinkles. The light showed easily. And that wasn’t luck. It was-

WHOM she surrounded herself with– family, a community that cultivated simplicity, structure, love and joyful labor. No wonder we kept coming back to this community to feed our souls.

WHAT she allowed in her mind– dreams, creativity, earnest struggle, repackaging loss, pitching tent and refusing to surrender. In the wake of a pandemic that had run many businesses aground, she found a way to stay safely open.

WHY she woke up every morning– to do her life’s purpose: serving others as if each diner was her own child. Her food carried that refreshingly home-cooked thing about it, and we drove out for miles just to eat those rolls, the home-made peanut butter, the rachel sandwich and those sweet potato fries. We were her WHY.

I wanted the agelessness of her soul. What was my Whom, What and Why? I sketched out these thoughts by the beach the next day and searched the waters for a well-packaged answer to take with me across the 50s bridge.

It came to me. The Whom, What and Why has to be lived out. Only then can it be truly found. All I had done was observe someone else’s as she lived it out. I needed to live out mine.

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