A friend recently sent me a favorite poem of hers, and it quickly became a favorite of mine as well. She couldn’t have sent it at a better time . . . just after a routine visit to my dermatologist. Here’s the poem:

My face catches the wind
from the snow line
and flushes with a flush
that will never wholly settle.
Well, that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young
forever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
and only pretty
enough to be seen
with a man who wanted to be seen
with a passable woman.

But now that I am in love
with a place that doesn’t care
how I look and if I am happy,
happy is how I look and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake,
my waist thicken, and the
years work all their usual changes.

If my face is to be weather beaten
as well, it’s little enough lost
for a year among the lakes and vales
where simply to look out my window
at the high pass makes me
indifferent to mirrors
and to what my soul may wear
over its new complexion.

~ Fleur Adcock ~

Back to my doctor’s office visit. We took care of the usual routine, uninteresting matters that prompted the appointment, then my doctor leaned over my face and squinted. “If you’d like,” he said, “I’ll have my assistant talk to you about your eyes–“

My eyes?

He zoomed in for a closer look at the rest of my face, then added, “I don’t see too many age spots but there are those pesky spider veins . . . “

A few minutes later I was undergoing more scrutiny, this time by his pretty assistant whose eyes were bruised from her own recent eye surgery. “Hmm, hmm,” she murmured, nodding. “You would be amazed at the difference you’d see if we removed those fat pads. You’ll look years younger.”

Fat pads? I didn’t know until this minute I had fat pads. “I’m a writer,” I said, feeling the need to defend my eyes. When I’m at the computer ten hours a day, my eyes tend to take a beating . . . especially when I’m on deadline. They swell, get teary, turn red . . .” I sighed and shrugged. “It’s just part of the writing process.”

She didn’t look impressed. She had now moved her magnifying light to the tiny veins around my nose. “Three laser treatments and we can get rid of those.”

“Foundation usually does the trick for me,” I said, quickly calculating the cost of a bottle of Lancome versus three laser treatments at $450 a pop.

She didn’t look impressed with that tidbit of information either. I politely took the brochures, thanked her for her time, and said I would think about it.

That afternoon the above poem landed in my mailbox and I had to chuckle. Weathered? Yes. And proud of it. Every laugh line, every vein (my dad had them too, which somehow pleases me), every freckle (I prefer the word to age spot) is part of my weathering. As the poet so eloquently says, “I am in love with a place that doesn’t care how I look . . . “

The place I love is internal; it’s the place where I celebrate who I am created to be, no matter my age, no matter the tattered-Skin-Horse kind of wear and tear, no matter the fat pads and spider veins or other signs of aging. It is the place that brings a smile as I drop the dermatologist’s brochures into the shredder, then turn once more to my writing deadline.




God's child who takes joy in His patience and love; St. Francis follower who desires to live simply; author in awe of God's incredible grace; fledgling graphite and colored pencil artist trying to improve, one drawing at a time.
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2 Responses to Weathering

  1. Leslie says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I confess that this issue has been on my mind of late, as I will be turning 50 in a few months and I’m grappling with the fact that even though “I’m just a kid” ha ha, the wrinkles are indeed showing up. I think our generation never truly believed that we would get old. That stuff was for our mothers, and it was okay for them.
    Well, as I have thought over the whole interesting subject, I’ve really examined myself to find how I can gracefully accept the changes and the inevitable marching on of time, across my face and down my sagging body.
    It has occurred to me lately, that God designed these bodies of ours, and he designed them specifically to age (aka deteriorate– gulp). They are vessels, and they were never intended to look 25 when they are 60. Hollywood has tried to convince us otherwise, but the fact is that God outfitted us in flawed pieces of epidermis, and there is no way to get around that, though with some money and a desire to go under the scalpel, we can temporarily disguise the truth.
    I have many scars, some from surgeries, some from stupid, clumsy accidents, and I view them as a road map, a very cool way of seeing that life has been lived in this old bod of mine. I’ve been down lots of highways and have some skid marks to prove it.
    I have wrinkles, and freckles, man oh man I do regret those teens years of lying on the beach slathered in Hawaiian Tropic Oil! But hey, you know what they say about hindsight…
    This life on earth, in these bodies, is just Step One of the journey, and if we happily accept the fact that our souls, and not our bodies, are made for eternity, it makes it a lot easier to look in the mirror and be happy with the whole plan.
    Indeed we are who we are inside, and the outside is going to go in the dumper sooner or later, so the sooner we accept the little veins and wrinkles, the more happily we can embrace the process and move on with the important things of life.
    Well, that’s my long-winded, rambling take on things. Oh, and I AM still just a kid! šŸ™‚
    Thanks for the post. It’s right on the money and very affirming for me!

    • Julie Kohlhaas says:

      I first discovered “Weatherings” while listening to David Whyte’s CD, POEMS OF SELF-COMPASSION.

      While I was yet in my 20s, I often had the thought pass through my mind that my 50s would be grand, that I would be hitting my stride about then. It became the truth. I have led an active and exciting life and continue to do so but most of the mountains I climb now are internal ones–most of the challenges I encounter are ones of the spirit–and the joy and peace just keeps getting deeper.

      Yes, the lines are there and the strange bulges around the waistline but there is a certain freedom in becoming invisible to the opposite sex (except for my loving husband, of course). I feel a bit like the ghosts on Ghost Whisperer when they realize that Melinda sees them–they are shocked to be seen, it’s been so long since anyone has seen them. But, when they are seen, something real happens, some kind of reconciliation.

      Occasionally, I come upon a young person who sees me and realize it’s because they are old souls who have brought their awareness from many lives into this new one. I try not to let their youthful appearance detract from what I need to hear from them and, possibly, what they need to hear from me.

      I am reminded of a poem by Rilke:

      My life is not this steeply sloping hour
      in which you see me hurrying.
      Much stands behind me;
      I stand before it like a tree;
      I am but one of my many mouths,
      and at that, the one that will be still the soonest.

      I am the rest between two notes,
      that are somehow always in discord
      because Death’s note wants to climb over–
      but in the dark interval, reconciled,
      they stay there trembling.
      And the song goes on, beautiful.

      I am currently reading Caroline Myss’s ENTERING THE CASTLE, based on St. Theresa of Avila’s, THE INTERIOR CASTLE. I am experiencing some incredible mystical revelations and I don’t have anyone to speak with about them. I’m wondering is there is anyone out there who knows what I am referring to and who might be willing to talk about it.

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