The 4th Quarter is the most exciting – toward a Theology of Aging

July 27, 2010 — 3 Comments

So here I was in Maine on our vacation.  We always visit our life long friends who live on a lake.  We had the first 3 days by ourselves – just Mary and I.  Time to read and reflect and cut down on the tyranny of technology.  I read mostly Psalms from a wonderful new “Book of Daily Prayer” called The Paraclete Psalter which has you following the Cape Cod Community of Jesus cycle of reading the Psalms four times a day.  I also read slowly through Mary Oliver’s volume of poetry, Evidence.

I began to journal about this thing called Aging.  I know, it’s only been 4 months since I turned 60, but it has got me thinking about what I’ve decided to dub, The 4th Quarter.  I might also use the other sports analogy of Home Stretch. Both capture the positive and exciting – instead of “last-ness” or the focus on “final,” or thinking in terms of diminishment.

Think of an NBA game.  I prefer college basketball, but the pro game is often most exciting in the 4th quarter.  The spiritual and life analogies are significant: the intensity increases; you play all-out, yet under control; substitutions have to be made; you’re concerned with fouling out;  stars play with poise under pressure; all need extra endurance that comes from training and being in the best possible shape.

I’d like to start a conversation on “a theology of aging.” I’ll be adding some food for thought and maybe call for a ‘forum’ of over 55’s to help change the face of how we envision the 4th quarter.  For now here’s some Psalms and some poetry lines I reflected on in Maine.

Psalm 39 –  “…O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days…”
Psalm 71  – “…O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds…”
Psalm 90 – “…So teach us to number our days that we present to you a heart of wisdom…Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
[One of my sons dubbed Psalm 90, “learning to die well at any age.”]

And two lines from Evidence that  express what “out of my own heart I have been saying:”

Halleluiah, I’m sixty now,
and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.
[from “Halleluiah”]

I have become older, and cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.
[from “To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”]


3 responses to The 4th Quarter is the most exciting – toward a Theology of Aging


    I think it will be an interesting conversation. I look forward to hearing more as well as participating…as I am of a certain age. I certainly relate to the ‘increased intensity’ and wanting ‘to play all out’. The other interesting fact is, I am still me and still loving they same things I have always enjoyed… So thank you, Lyle, for approaching the subject no one seems to want to talk about in a positive way. I look forward to more. Also have a few of Mary Oliver’s books, I really like her and her writing. Peace.


    Interesting topic, Lyle. Aging somehow has your interest now. I understand. I’ve been in Q4 for a while now, although when you have health issues that are physically limiting, that brings into play another look at the experience and understanding of it.

    I’ve also spent time with Ps. 90 and others that offer perspectives on age, mortality, and living for God. And I am a long-time fan of Mary Oliver’s. Other recent books of her poetry such as Red Bird and the transitional Thirst offer reflections on aging–reflections back on relationships and experience, and looking forwarde to the horizon.

    Again, good topic for thought and discussion.



    I agree and appreciate the qualifier about health issues. Our dear friend Gail R noted in a b-day card some tips that included the need for ‘AHM’ – Aggressive Health Maintenance. Chronic or serious illness adds another set of challenges that also remind us to reflect on the promise of resurrection bodies!

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