This I Believe

Leigh - Spring Valley, California
Entered on August 4, 2007

Aging is not an illness. Aging is not the war you fight in order to have life. Aging is not a symptom of personal failure. Aging does not mean that God has let you down. Aging is not a way you are being punished for something you’ve done. Aging is not a sign of weakness or incapacity. Aging is not transient but continues steadily throughout your life span.

Symptom by symptom, body part by body part the aging process changes your ability to move, speak, and remember. I have heard it said that getting older is not for the weak. Every morning you wake up your body is different than it was the day before. Your blood moves within you, oxygen moves in your lungs, the thoughts in your mind shift from yesterday to today. Every day is an opportunity to adapt to the body we find ourselves in when we wake up.

I imagine Jesus might say “blessed are those who age, for they shall discover the meaning of life.” There is something that comes with age. Call it what you will. Call it experience or wisdom. Call it connection or reflection. Age is necessary to make meaning out of the events of living. A baby may have fresh, beautiful skin, but cannot understand the events of child birth.

This body is not a machine of parts which can be changed out or upgraded with advances in technology. Our bodies are organic and finite. They are a part of the created order set in motion by God. Medical care can heal many illnesses, wounds and diseases. Medical care can help the human body live more days. But ultimately this shell we inhabit will no longer be a suitable place for our spirit.

I recently officiated at a memorial service for a man who died at the age of 83. After the service I spoke with his brother, who had suffered a stroke and struggled to speak with me. I held his hand and waited for each word to be formed within him and propelled out of his mouth. Every word he spoke was a gift proclaiming appreciation for his life, his family and our time together. The time it took to pause and hear his story was worth more than I could ever express.