Our Matthew series just concluded a mini-series on “Following Jesus through all the Stations of Life” including “A Theology of Aging.” I’ll post the sermon link here. I also referenced Joan Chittister’s wonderful book, The Gift of Years. I love her statement: “The gift of…years is not merely being alive; it is the gift of becoming more fully alive than ever.” One comment I received is worth passing on: “‘Retirement’ should really just be putting on 4 new ‘tires!'” (i.e. re-tired!)
I’ll repeat some thoughts from my summer reflections:
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. 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.
Here are some Psalms and poetry lines:
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.
I have become older, and cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.
[from “To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”]