Our society is doing a good job of producing seniors, but not elders. ~ James Houston
I stand six feet four inches tall and weigh north of two hundred and fifty pounds. When I was a young man I took great pride in my physical strength. I worked construction and was athletic, so physical strength was a deep part of my persona and identity. (I once picked the front end of my jeep up while stuck in mud while someone else drove it out of the mud hole.)
I am now nearly sixty years old and my body is getting soft as biscuit dough and I can’t do things, physically, that I used to do with great ease. This has posed a greater challenge to my spiritual life than I might have ever imagined as a young man. I do not like being weak. I do not like not being able to keep up with younger people. I do not like being vulnerable. I do not want my body to fail me. These days carrying in a sack of groceries gives me pause.
There are lines on my face and they are getting deeper. There are spots on my hands and they are getting darker. My skin is creped. The doctor took six biopsies off my ear, face, and shoulders not too long ago and said I had a goodly amount of wisdom spots on my body.
Wisdom spots. That was very kind of her to say.
Dealing with my failing and aging body is to come to terms with my mortality. I have less life ahead of me than behind me. These “wisdom spots” are omens of the grave. My inability to keep up with the younger mountain climbers are simply signs that point to a final resting place—below ground.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
I want to be the kind of person that ages with grace and a winsomeness that draws others to Jesus. But I battle a dark curmudgeon disposition. It is like a shadow that follows me everywhere I go.
God and I speak about these shortening days. I am frustrated, but He is kind and welcoming. He whispers to my soul that I am getting closer to transitioning into a different kind of life that will not be impaired by the distractions of this present world.
The old Puritan prayer “Weakness” reminds me:
Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom,
not asking whether the road be rough or smooth.
I request only to see the face of him I love,
to be content with bread to eat,
with raiment to put on,
if I can be brought to thy house in peace.
I’m learning that being is more important than doing.
I find rest in that.