Forever 17

When I was a child and I thought about growing up and going out into the world on my own, I was often confused and even frightened by the possibility that I would be leaving the family I knew (well, leaving it physically – I have since learned that we never really leave our family of birth). But somewhere, “deep inside” of me, I had an idea that has never left me. I would grow up to be 17.

Why 17? I don’t have a clue!!! Didn’t then, and don’t now!

But the strangest thing, and something completely clear to me, is that I have always been 17. Take a look at me – I’m still 17!

I love to lead small groups – I volunteer to lead two small groups in the community in Oakland even now – and one time, I was leading a group of women. I asked them the question: “How old are you – inside?” As each women thought about it and then spoke aloud her inner age, heads around the room nodded. We could see it! One woman – a woman to me at the time, very old, although I am older now than she was then, told us that she was 18. She was right!

And so, this 17 year old old has entered her elder years, a retired person now. As my father told me, many years ago when I looked at him in disbelief, a child with her whole life ahead of her, “life sure goes fast.”

It sure does.

Even autumn is beautiful… photo by Mary Elyn Bahlert, 12/3/2014, Oakland