How Maple Syrup Transformed My View of Turning 40

How Maple Syrup Transformed My View of Turning 40

How Maple Syrup Transformed My View of Turning 40

It transformed how I viewed turning forty, but it started as an ordinary field trip to the local nature center with my son’s preschool class a few years ago. A room full of curious four-year-olds, a handful of parents, and a few teachers listened to the volunteer from the nature center explain the process of making maple syrup.

Two interesting facts grabbed my attention.

One, while the collection methods of sap from maple trees have grown more sophisticated, the refinement process is basically the same. The sap is heated to evaporate the moisture leaving only pure, valuable, golden liquid.

Two, it takes forty gallons of sap to create one gallon of pure maple syrup.

The analogy of being refined and leaving behind potent sweetness and value resonates with me. Who doesn’t want to leave a legacy like that? Who doesn’t want their life to matter beyond the few years we spend on earth?

Our culture jokes about turning forty as being over-the-hill. As if glory days were as good as life gets so we ought to look back at every turn. Now, you don’t need to rush me since I still have over three years to go, but when I join other distinguished members of the forty and over society, I have a sweeter way of viewing aging.

What if, instead of riding a rocket to the grave, we were really collecting sap to be refined? Each year beyond forty would be a precious privilege to collect more raw materials to create more than that one gallon of pure syrup. There are plenty of people who don’t even get forty years in life, why should I insult them with the crazy notion that everything after forty is only decline?

Why not embrace a maple syrup mindset of aging that says turning forty is just the beginning of sweetening life for those around us with our “gallon” of refined heavenly deliciousness? I believe we can’t sweeten the lives of those around us without benefitting ourselves. At least, ultimately.

Life is extremely difficult sometimes. If it’s going to happen anyway, I’d like to not waste the difficulties that turn up the heat in my life and let God boil away all the crap – er, I mean sap – in my life to get to the good part. Not all difficulties result in refinement – that depends on my level of cooperation – so I may as well yield to the Refiner. I mean, no one wants a sappy ending, right? We want sweet, rich, potent, valuable, and good for you.

A cursory search on Google revealed maple syrup contains antioxidants (one site claimed twenty-six), boosts the immune system, and protects the heart from various cardiovascular disorders. (I know, right? Maybe Elf was on to something…)

Is there anything spiritually nutritious about forty, too? I don’t have any answers, but just for fun, I searched for “forty” in the Bible and found some incidents I found fascinating. (If you know of others, feel free to share in the comments!)

  • It rained 40 days while Noah was in the ark
  • Isaac was 40 yrs when he married Rebekah
  • When Jacob (Israel) died, he was embalmed for 40 days
  • Moses’s life can be outlined in three segments of 40 years, with milestones at each segment:
    • 40 yrs when he identified with his people, the Hebrews, but helping them his own way didn’t work and he had to flee for his life
    • 80 yrs, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush directing him to save the Hebrews His way (it worked)
    • 120 yrs Moses died
  • Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai before bringing the ten commandment stone tablets down
  • Joshua was 40 yrs when Moses sent him and the other spies to scout out the promised land
  • The spies scouted the promised land for 40 days
  • God provided Israelites manna in the desert for 40 years
  • The Philistine army taunted the Israelites 40 days before David killed Goliath
  • King David reigned 40 years
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness enduring temptations

Will you join me in letting God refine our years, our moments, whatever He chooses to give us to make something useful, valuable, and sweet for others (and ourselves)? I believe we glorify God and bring blessing to others when we choose that path. Here’s to turning 40 and beyond!

9 thoughts on “How Maple Syrup Transformed My View of Turning 40

    1. Melissa, I had to chuckle. My husband and I are only three years apart so his being MUCH older than me is obviously tongue in cheek. But hey, we were nice – none of this awful over the hill stuff. 😉

  1. Ah Pearl! I’ve turned 40 already. I look at 40 as I finally made it to the top of the hill! I could finally see where I’d been and a much better view of where I was going. It’s a beautiful view, by the way!

    I like your maple syrup analogy. Personally I don’t care for syrup, but I do enjoy red wine. I hear wine is better with age too! 🙂

    Such good insights and I love the way life teaches us all along the way!

    1. Actually, I should confess, I’ve turned 50 too! I love birthdays! Yes, I do usually say I’m 25, but that’s just because that’s how I feel inside. Trust me when I say, the number of years you are is not what matters as much as how you’re living those years while you age.
      Enjoy where you are, but do not fear the big 4-0 or 5-0! Live life. Enjoy life no matter what age! It’s worth living!

  2. “Why not embrace a maple syrup mindset of aging that says turning forty is just the beginning of sweetening life for those around us with our “gallon” of refined heavenly deliciousness”

    I’m closer to the age of 50 and I totally agree! I lost my mother this week and I see many examples of what you describe where the wiser women have shared their hearts and experiences; the refinement they have experienced is more advanced than where I’m at which has allowed them to bless me in ways perhaps others could not. I have seen ways in which my own ‘refining process’ has helped me offer varying perspectives to my sister who is 10 years younger.

    1. Riley!! My heart goes out to you!!! May God sustain you in this period of grief and loss and give you strength to feel what you need to feel (without others dictating what that is or isn’t). You sweeten my life — and no doubt many others, and I’m grateful there have been older women to pour into you, as well. May God continue to bring those into your life at just the right time with the right provisions, words of encouragement, and anything else needed on your journey as you go through this tumultuous time. Hurting for you. May God uphold you tenderly, sweet friend, and bind your heart wounds.

  3. Neat thoughts! I’m not rushing these last sweet years of thirty, though! It’s still very hard for my to think that in four years, I’ll be there. So I’m plugging my ears and saying “LALALALA” to that part, but to the rest, Amen! 😀

    1. Rebekah, I’m not rushing either! The thought was on the brain, though, as I realized my hubbie will turn 40 later this year. I like to tell him I married a MUCH older man. 😉

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