Autumn Has Arrived: Released from Regret

Memorial Day weekend has arrived, marking the unofficial kick-off of summer 2024 in the land of E pluribus unum. Yet, I find myself thinking about autumn, when I turn fifty-eight in a few months. The calendar clear I’m nearing the end of my fifties. A decade I never believed I was going see when I was in my twenties.

My accumulation of days and years in this world, creating an earthly novel filled with a million stories like the billions of stories that have been written and are still being written. The overwhelming majority of my life uneventful and evidently forgettable with my ongoing gathering of time. Every new moment, metabolizing into a memory or minutes I’ll soon forget.  

I know I have lived a much longer life than most people in history ever did. It is a blessing but, and that’s my problem. My life is a lot of buts, and I don’t mean a Sir Mix-a-Lot type of but.   

My young adult years reckless and carefree, as I made up for a closeted adolescence. Determined to no longer live in shame because of my sexuality, I devoured sex without understanding its sacred intimacy. A gift I abused when I was younger now added to my rolling list of life’s regrets.

My middle-aged adult years careless and impulsive in my pursuit of stuff that I thought would bring me peace and happiness. Bringing neither. Living a life unexamined, spiritually empty and full of regrets.

My erasure of memories aided and abetted by my own self-destructive behavior. Stories I sometimes miss. Stories I wish I could savor again. Stories I regret.

I find myself straddling wisdom’s edge between being trapped in my past or charitably celebrating what I have learned from my past. My introspective exercise and accrued time on Earth offering me this gift of gratitude. Grateful for both experiences and people I took for granted when I was younger. When my past was something I wanted to run from, and my future was something I could not run too.

A decades list of regrets haunt me, but I no longer fear my unhappy past selfishness. Alive in the mercy and grace of God. An unconditional love that God offers to all people because we are all God’s children.

I’m learning that God’s gift of grace extends to all people, including myself. My past is just that, my past. A bygone assortment of mental might have been’s, cerebral could have been’s and remorseful regrets; particularly regrets. Past actions, words and thoughts that fell short of love that only the love of God washes away and releases.

Learning from and honoring my history but no longer ensnared in it. Love lives in the present. Love is never about entrapping us in the past or entangling our future (only God knows what will be.)

It’s in this moment that we’re offered the opportunity to create more love in the world. Living a life of love in real time is how we make an actual difference in a world we all share. Loving our neighbor and loving God are two sides of the same coin.

As another summer season begins, I’ll have numerous opportunities to create more love in the world. Not by sitting alone at my desk or ruminating in the attic of thoughts that fill my head, but by participating in the world. Love is a live action adventure, not a recollection of regrets.

Freed from regret, I’m trying to live and love in the now. Fully aware that as spring welcomes summer, winter will accompany autumn. Living a life of peace and love, all the while knowing my season under heaven is for a limited time only.