Hope for Growing Older:
We are All in the Boat Together
When it comes to growing older, we are all in the boat together. We all grow older and experience changes associated with aging right from the very start…
We move from preschool to kindergarten to elementary school. Maybe we go to college, get a job, marry, move away, or have kids of our own. Later we may experience health issues or the death of someone important in our lives.
It’s not always easy to keep hope alive when one is aging and living in a society which is obsessed with staying young and living longer. In his 2018 book
, On the Brink of Everything,
Parker Palmer writes:
“Our youth-oriented culture sends a message to elders that can discourage us and defeat us: ‘It’s time to withdraw from serious engagement with a world that is changing so rapidly that you can’t keep up. So, take up harmless hobbies and hangout at home.’”
Palmer goes on to suggest that no matter our age, we all yearn to use our gifts, to have purpose, and to create meaning in our lives regardless of what stage of life we find ourselves. For those of us blessed with the gift of old age, we want to ask ourselves
“How will I use this gift to the best of my ability?”
One way I’ve tried to use the gift of old age wisely is to connect with young people. My spouse and I are friends with a younger couple from our church. They are parents of two very lively 12-year-old's. They keep us up to date on the challenges of being 40-somethings with two active girls and very full work and church lives. The girls teach us about the latest songs and fashions. We love learning from them. And we hope along the way, we impart some wisdom to them.
This family loves baseball. At a recent Washington Nationals game, they taught us about the concept of a “walk-up” song. This is the music played when a team member walks up to bat. The song often defines the player and has meaning associated with him. Learning about “walk-up” songs got me thinking about the concept of a “walk-off” song, as in what song or thought do we want played or conveyed as we walk off from this life?
For me, the song would be
Great Is God’s Faithfulness
because God has been so utterly faithful and present in my life. And my walk-off thought would be a line from a Mary Oliver poem: “
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.”
What is your “walk-off” song or thought? For what do you want to be remembered?