Even in my old age with gray hair, don’t abandon me, God! Not until I tell generations about your mighty arm, tell all who are yet to come about your strength, and about your ultimate righteousness, God, because you’ve done awesome things! — Psalm 71:18-19
I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate the daily meditations of Henri Nouwen. A recent one should catch the attention of all of us who have AARP cards:
Much violence in our society is based on the illusion of immortality, which is the illusion that life is a property to be defended and not a gift to be shared. When the elderly no longer can bring us in contact with our own aging, we quickly start playing dangerous power games to uphold the illusion of being ageless and immortal. Then, not only will the wisdom of the elderly remain hidden from us, but the elderly themselves will lose their own deepest understanding of life. For who can remain a teacher when there are no students willing to learn?
As I interact with fellow retired folks, I grow to appreciate the wisdom that can be shared simply by living a day that’s not driven by ambitions and deadlines. Specifically, as I bowl with seniors I hear their stories of happiness as well as sorrows, of losses as well as gains. They come out, eat lunch, get frustrated by bad breaks on the alleys, and return the next week, regardless. They demonstrate the ultimate importance of relationships, of getting out and enjoying the simple things. There’s a richness to life that can be discovered when life is lived at such a slower, less stressed pace.
Research shows that older people who have a mission in life live longer. Maybe our mission is that, as we grow older, we live in such a way that the younger generation will feel welcomed, and not scared, by us. Perhaps growing younger in spirit as we grow older in body is a key. What else do we have to do except truly live as a child of God, regardless of how many candles are on our birthday cake?