I recently returned from visiting my parents in northwestern Ohio. My parents are aging, as am I. They are facing the challenges of bodies marked by 80 years of habitation. Eyes, lungs, hearts, ears function within tighter constraints. For me, the transition is moving from seeing myself as the mother of teen agers, to being a woman of a certain age working in partnership with my parents, who are not children.
I have been struck this week by the elders in our congregation who have ministered to me. They ask questions. They listen. They ever so gently offer their perspectives from 70, 80, and 90 years of life, faith, and experience. They invite me to embrace my own maturity, rather than tolerating my fall into the age my habits of family patterns cast me. I really am not 19 years old. I can be 53.
Krista Tippett hosts a wonderful radio program called On Being, which airs locally KUHF on Sunday mornings. This past Sunday she interviewed Jane Gross, the writer of the New York Times’ New Old Age Blog; you can listen to the interview at www.onbeing.org. Gross invited listeners to realize that old age is not to be “fixed” but to be lived. The pace of aging is slow. It comes to us all.
A real blessing in my life is to be part of a community of faith which encompasses so many people in different stages of life. We are exemplars to each other of grace from womb to tomb. This is increasingly rare in American culture as we separate out according to life style, income and race. The Body of Christ holds us all.