It can be fun to watch a child awakened from sleep by surprise. Hopefully the unexpected will not scare the child. Maybe it’s a surprise visit from Grandma with chocolate chip cookies. Or maybe you wake up in the morning expecting a dark day. The surprise comes when you open the curtains and discover a bright new morning inviting you to live a full and happy day.

Surprises come in many ways such as a surprise birthday party or a new vocational opportunity seemingly out of nowhere. I was once surprised when I was asked to serve in the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. I was given one hour to make up my mind. Since I couldn’t think of a reason to say no, I said yes. Abu Dhabi and Bahrain never occur to me as places to serve in ministry. The offer was a surprise and a superb experience.

Some people awaken to the surprise of old age. What seemed to be years away suddenly appears. This awakening is usually not happily greeted. Where has my life gone? I didn’t know it would be so short.

Responses to old age vary. Some grieve and begin to act older than they are. Others accept their new life and make plans for the days ahead. They discover that there is more to learn, young families to love, and perhaps a little more time to say their prayers. A line in a prayer I often say is: “In heart and mind and body this day, let me serve love.” This prayer is good to pray at any age.

With age comes wisdom. Life’s experiences have taught us many things and we can reflect on what it has meant to us. The psalmist was right when he wrote, “So teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart to wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) While old age may come by surprise it can still be an awakening to new adventures and opportunities to ponder the meaning of life. You no long have to relearn what was previously learned by trial and error. One can be grateful for each moment in the gift of a new day. What better time is there to apply our hearts to Wisdom.