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The air seemed cleaner, somehow brighter then. Everything appeared more vibrant in color and detail. I remember holding ladybugs, among many insects, between my thumb and forefinger inspecting their underside.

I was transfixed by the small wonder. The legs all moved as if trying to find traction on air. I’d turn them over and set them in the palm of my other hand and let them crawl around until they took to flight.

The things felt or expressed for the first time bring most people to the mountain peak of awe. Many of us spend the first part of our lives in wonder and amazement. For a good number of others, many spend the next part of their lives trying to conquer the things that once captured them.

This is the phase of life that limits are explored, where limits are learned. Some of us stay in this phase of our life longer than others. It’s a fine line between ambition and wisdom. Perseverance is one thing, but there is a point when that admirable trait of perseverance for certain things becomes ignorance.

We’ve all witnessed people in our lives try to hang onto a portion of their life that’s long past. I’ve been guilty of it myself, still am I suppose. I remember knocking on doors and when the owners opened the door, my buddy and me dryly greeted them with a “trick or treat”…

More than a few of them countered with, “Aren’t you a little old to be trick or treating”? Echoing the sentiments of my older brothers… Maybe a costume would have helped…

I can’t recall how many ripped hamstrings I’ve endured trying to sprint with the kids I coached. They started ripping just inside 100 yards, then it was forty yards. After I got down to inside twenty yards I gave up with regret of a time obviously passed.

Enter: the last phase of life… Reality.

This is the time a person has to make a decision about what perspective to adopt in our next phase of life. Do we throw in the towel of wonder and awe of life? While a bit of regret I think is natural and acceptable, if it is the glasses we choose to see our world through for the next phase of our lives, it’s a sad life with little wisdom gained in the process of the last one.

It’s easy to be cynical; I think it’s also tempting to begin to live in the past. If each day is a gift and we believe God’s mercies begin new with each day, how can we regret losing what we were designed to lose in order to receive what new gifts God’s offering?

I’m still in awe and wonder of a beautiful sunrise and sunset. With each new season comes new amazement by the wonder of it. While I can’t see in detail what I once did, I can see things that the eyes of my youth couldn’t.

God has allowed those of us given the gift of time here on earth to see things that aren’t visible to the human eye. We can see the hand of God in all things on earth. The phase of wisdom is even more extraordinary than the first phase of life.

For the little more dull among us the middle phase is designed to wear us out. A person doesn’t have to try to chase the wind forever before they realize it’s impossible. It does serve to wear down the strong-willed, to open the eyes in order to see the true gift of life.

As I stood on the doorstep of this next phase, I glanced down at the mat set before the threshold. I smiled as I read it…