What's The Point Of Growing Old?


‘What is the point of growing old?’ I asked a winter pilgrim. He replied ‘To make space for others’. I thought to myself ‘That’s what nature does’. In autumn leaves grow old and fall to the ground. These old leaves do two worthwhile things. They provide us humans with a feast of yellow, red and gold in a thousand glinting hues. They also give nutrients to the soil which enables it to host a new generation of plantlings.
Then I thought that God also creates space for others. The Bible pictures God as entering a season of rest in order to enjoy all that grows (Genesis 1: - 2:3). God even makes worlds that seem to make themselves yet somehow remains connected. Egotistic atheists don’t get this. The God they don’t believe in is a projection of a human control freak who never lets go. .When they discover that nature does not work as if its Creator is like that, they cease to believe in God. But suppose that God, like nature itself, makes space for all, and that we are called to reflect God’s nature? Then we can both believe in God and grow old with grace. Disintegration and dying are not the point of growing old, they are the means to the end. The end is ‘glory’ for us and life for others.
The Community of Aidan and Hilda calls people to live in the seasons of nature and of life. When we do this we oldies don’t  complain about what we can no longer give: we  give all that we have to give.. Our presence and our interest in others are like the nutrients the leaves put into the earth. We invest our love in a new generation. The more we do this the nearer we come to spring. Then we go to church, hear about resurrection, and sing Sidney Carter’s hymn: 
You are older than the world can be,
You are younger than the life in me;
Ever old and ever new,
Keep me travelling along with you:

And it's from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me travelling along with you.
The thing about old age is that it has no future.


Posted at 05:39am on 11th January 2013
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