Photo by Lindsay Alessandrini

Photo by Lindsay Alessandrini

I have heard it said that “Growing old is not for the faint of heart.” And indeed, as the body ages there are issues, or as Leonard Cohen sings, “I hurt in the places where I used to play.”   And the mind—the mind—that too seems to slow down and not recall things as quickly—and when it does finally recall them, the conversation has moved three steps beyond.

But, as I think about life, “Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart” either. After all, the heart explodes in a panic as we are awakened by cries of terror from the nursery. The mind “awfulizes” as you sit in the mid-hours of the night, long after the curfew has past, and your son isn’t home from his date. And what about the ache that fills in around the hole that is left when your daughter drives away, heading for the college.

And while we are at it, I don’t think that “being a teenager is for the faint of heart.”  Remember those years?  Remember the confusion when the body, racing with hormones, chased the longing for love and the urge to connect with unrelenting energy? Remember when you wanted to be your cool, unique self almost as badly as you wanted to fit-in and belong?  And then when you were left out? Ouch!

And maybe being a child is “not for he faint of heart.” The 5 year old in Indianapolis or Honduras stands at the door of the school, kindergarten waiting for him, trying to steel himself by getting a glimpse of what is to come. The unknown reaches around the half-open door to signal a hint of hope for the unsteady heart.

Maybe all this simply points to the fact that to live almost anytime and any situation in life requires a strong heart. Courage (heart, or inner strength) is required as we face the changes, losses, discoveries, unknowns of life.And maybe we can gain some strength in knowing that what ever stages of life we are in, we are not alone. Others around us are also drawing from deep wells of courage to stand in the midst of their fears and challenges. Maybe it helps to know that to be human is to have the capacity to face the unknown future to find heart enough to love life in the midst of the troubles.