Gathering Widsom: The Golden Fruit of Later Years

When the editors of Conversations Journal decided to do an issue of aging and passages, we knew we had in our own community a voice to speak wisely and well to us. In Emilie Griffin’s latest book, Green Leaves for Later Years, she shares wisdom from her seventy-five-year spiritual journey.

It is early in the morning, and I am grateful. Grateful that in this year of grace I took a little of my own medicine and returned with a kind of humility. Well, a kind of humbling, at least—a low-to-the-ground way of remembering what it is to begin again. And again. And again. This is the year I admitted, for example, that I cannot ever find my Bible in the early morning, because the house is filled with Bibles, and not one of them is ever the one I’m after when it is still dark and I want to watch the light come up over the trees. For me the light is Christ.

So I begin again, looking for today’s Bible reading electronically this time, pulling the day’s Scripture up from the website I have bookmarked as hodie, which is Latin for “today.” It is also the first word of the chant that monks use to open the Christmas Day antiphon at second vespers. Hodie Christus natus est. Today Christ is born.

This is the first line of Benjamin Britten’s “Hodie” in the Ceremony of Carols, that beautiful work of almost-chant that long ago swept me into the Christian life. And so each morning now this simple Latin word—hodie, “today,” “this day”—is my entrance into the beauty of the moment and the life of the Lord. Fittingly, it is in the later years that I claim this phrase as part of the day’s opening reading and opening prayer. Why fittingly? Because I am fully present in the moment, in the instant, yet by grace connected fully to the Lord. His word, my action. His touch, my word and world enough. Stretching across the globe itself by grace. My self extended. This word, this time, this instant of prayer, my entry point into the day.

Emilie Griffin:
Emilie Griffin is a speaker and author of a number of books on the spiritual life. Among these are Clinging: the Experience of Prayer, Wilderness Time: a Guide to Spiritual Retreat, and Small Surrenders: a Lenten Journey. She is active with the RENOVARÉ board of advisers and speaking team, and a founding member of the Society, a group for writers of Christian faith. She also serves on the editorial team of Conversations.
    • Aaaah, I drink this in like good wine to a thirsty throat. And, because “Hodie Natus Christus est”…”Gloria in Excelsis Deo” and “Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua…”

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    • Gwen S

      Emilie, you speak into the deepest parts of who I am. (Turning, Clinging.) If your words are wine to Rob, they are, to my palate, the finest in gourmet fare; nutrient-dense, beautiful, tasty, satisfying. “…low-to-the-ground way of remembering what it is to begin again…” Love that. Your earthy grasp of a profoundly spiritual existence–and your incomparable expression of it–inspires me as both a lover of God and as a writer. Many blessings.