"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Aging Gracefully? Not me!

I have always admired those who age gracefully. We all know them; the sweet little older ladies who totter around the streets greeting everyone with a smile and a “good morning,” even though they don’t remember who you are. When you sit and chat with them, they might drift to a different subject in midsentence, but aren’t they sweet? Then there are the gentlemen who limp along and don’t mind telling you about their bad back, their sciatica, their cataracts, their most recent procedures, but, “that’s just the way it is when you get older,” they say. “It’s better than the alternative.” These wonderful people will certainly state their opinions about, well, everything, and not really care about your thoughts (because they don’t really remember who you are). Isn’t that a good way to be? One of my life heroines, Julia Sugarbaker, is often quoted that “here in the South, we love our old people. We don’t lock them inside or put them in homes; we put them out on the front porch and call them eccentric.” Gracefully aging people, accepting it and relishing the years they’ve spent here on earth.

Not me. I’m being dragged, kicking and screaming, into those years with absolutely no grace at all. As my family will quickly tell you, I whine at every joint ache, “Ach, no! That can’t be arthritis! Why does it hurt so badly? When does it quit?” I can’t imagine how these lovely and graceful people jump out of bed early in the mornings looking forward to the day, when it takes me at least thirty minutes to convince myself I am even alive. And that early morning bit? I don’t think so. And don’t even get me started on those tests and procedures you have to start getting. If the pioneers didn’t have to get those things done, then why should we?

Everyone is familiar with the scripture passage in Ecclesiastes that tells us, “There is a right time to be born and another to die….a right time to hold on and another to let go….whatever was, is; and whatever will be, is. That’s the way of God.” God created me to be here on this earth for a right time and to accomplish things that are for His purpose. The methods of that purpose may change, but the purpose remains the same. In basic terms, that purpose is to love God and love people.

I may not be able to crawl around on the floor with children during their playtime, but I can sit in the chair with my guitar, sing songs and tell them stories. I may not be able to shoot down the class IV rapids with teenagers like I once did, but I can certainly stay at their campsite and plan the pranks for that night. Even though I can’t run the bases like I once did, I can admit my age and play on ball teams for “older folks” where nobody can run fast. Or get up as quickly when they fall over a base (Jimmy).

God created us. He created the aging process, but it is up to us how we handle our aging in connection with our purpose. Just because I ache more, groan more, and make the noises like an old man when I stand up, I still love God and love people. It’s up to me to not give up and figure out how to best do it. God doesn’t give out pink slips and you can never retire from His plan for you. It is always the right time for whatever age you might be.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.