Lamenting lasts and giving thanks


By Allyn Schuyler

Special to The PREVIEW

I woke this morning to celebrate my birthday and, instead, began my day lamenting all the “lasts” I find myself experiencing these days. This might sound like I’m a real “glass half empty” kind of person, but that’s not at all the case. Optimistic and positive — I just have come to an age where the limits of my earthly body and circumstances are dictating to me, instead of the other way around.

I was told yesterday my sweet old dog has to be put down. I have enjoyed the companionship of a border collie since I was 6 months old. But herding dogs need activity and purpose and I am no longer able to give a pup what it needs to be properly trained. I believe Ginger might be my last dog.

Recently, because of a lifelong, recurring injury in my ankle, I’m no longer able to walk for exercise. I took up walking when I moved to Pagosa and had to retire my running shoes. I have loved the long chats with my walking partner and will miss enjoying the beauty of Pagosa as I stroll its dusty, rocky streets. As much as I hate to accept this, I have probably taken my last hike into the forest.

At home, my last and late-in-life child is graduating from high school. This one, and she would be the first to admit it, challenged us every step of the way. Even so, no longer being a home-schooling mom will leave a huge hole in my heart.

Being celebratory in nature, I knew I couldn’t squander my special day feeling sorry for myself, so I distracted my mind with a little research and writing.

By definition, the word “lament” means to express sorrow or regret, to mourn for or over. In the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah mourns the destruction of Jerusalem in the wake of the Babylonian invasion of 586 B.C. He witnessed the results of evil and suffering in the world. When I read and was reminded about the kinds of things that deserve lamentations in the true sense of the word, I was ashamed by my pity-party and corrected my attitude immediately.

I counted my many blessings to offset the “lasts.” I gave thanks for my wonderful husband of 30-plus years and our two amazing adopted kids. I found love so late in life it was a miracle I married at all. After a cancer diagnosis, we did not think kids were in our future. God had other plans and blessed us with two. God saw our desire to home-school and provided financially so I was able to stay home and do so.

I’m so thankful God gave me a strong body and that I’ve been able to enjoy lots of sports and physical activity my entire life. My middle-aged, five-day backpacking trip into the Weminuche wilderness carrying a 35-pound backpack was one of the highlights.

Reading these beautiful words in Lamentations 3:22-25 further cemented my attitude adjustment:

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends

“His mercies never cease.

“Great is His faithfulness;

“His mercies begin afresh each morning.

“I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;

“Therefore, I will hope in Him!”

“The Lord is good to those who depend on Him,

“To those who search for Him.”

So, tomorrow I will rise and not feel sorry for all the “lasts” in my life. Rather, I will bask in His new and ceaseless mercies. I will search for Him and what He wants me to do next. I will hope in Him.

Who knows, there might even be an older border collie languishing in a shelter somewhere dreaming of a home just like mine.