I find it helpful to be reminded that the person of God’s creating — each of us — is neither young nor old, not in God’s eyes. Perhaps it should not be any different when we see others. When John, James and Peter saw Jesus, Elijah and Moses together during the transfiguration, I doubt that they gave any thought to the ages of the people they saw.
I do believe that as we grow older we can live by certain guiding principles: Realize aging is what it is, can’t stop it; keep on taking care of your body and mind; keep on investing in making the world a better place day by day; love and live every moment as best you can with joy; and stay enthusiastically connected to God.
I remember when I was much younger going with my mother to visit folks in the nursing homes. Some were so nice and kind; others were mad at the world. I asked my mother about the mad ones. She explained that so-and-so had something happen to her in life and never got over it. “I hope I’m kind and sweet when I get older,” I said. Mother replied, “Well, you better start being kind and sweet now. When you get older, you just get more of what you were when you were young.”
Gerard Vanderhaar: “I looked upon 20-40 as the Learning Years, when I was on my own after leaving home and getting a fix on what I could do; 40-60 were the Command Years, when I was able to apply what I had learned in a more effective way; 60-80 I’ve come to appreciate as the Wisdom Years, when I feel good about what I know and have done and can share if asked but not force on others. What about 80? If I live that long, my life after 80 will be the End Game.”
At Castalia in 2012, we had one black male and one black female turn 90. In 2013, we had four black females turn 90. So far in 2014, we’ve had one black female turn 90. And for the first time in our history, on Valentine’s Day, we had a black female turn 100! Based on what I’ve observed, growing old gracefully involves being active physically, socially and above all spiritually. Live to God’s glory, and sound stewardship of one’s person is a byproduct.
Years ago, a wise older friend told me, “After you retire, always have one thing you have to do each day. Don’t wake up with absolutely nothing you plan to do.” I also personally try not to make jokes about senior moments and the like. When you become senior, hopefully every moment is a gift, senior or otherwise.
Life is a gift from God. Embrace it. I am privileged to have a plethora of wise elderly women in my life, ranging from 70 to 99 years of age. They attribute their longevity to faith in God, love of people, and taking care of themselves. I say take “Sabbath rest,” which includes spending time alone with God and relaxing with family. Laugh often, eat healthy, exercise daily, love unconditionally, forgive freely, and “Don’t hate; appreciate.”