The wisdom years

As part of the elderly population, we are aware of the publicity given people our age.

Most of the news is focussed on welfare issues, while increased advertising suggests there is money to be made retirement villages, rest homes and funerals. Very little is said about the gifts of wisdom that can come only with a life fully lived.

Most of the advantages of getting old are emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Most of the disadvantages are physical. Because the physical tends to demand more attention, we don’t always appreciate what we have gained through the aging process. Let’s look at some of the benefits.

1. We’ve spent many years in Life School and our experience is a part of our faith. We have come to a deeper place where we see God in everything. There is no separation. The world is full of God.

2. We know that while the head has language, the heart has no words, only feeling. We have learned that words are not idols to be worshipped: they are signposts that lead us to the heart space. Here there is a knowing of God that fills us with freedom and peace.

3. We are comfortable with the way we are made, and are not bothered by public opinion. The incidents that used to bother us, now seem trivial, almost laughable.

4. We have learned that insecurity and doubt are not enemies but good friends of wisdom. Both allow us to grow. The security and certainty we once sought, have tended to prevent growth.

5. We value the beauty of lectio divina, especially in the gospels when we walk with our Lord. In the company of Jesus, the words cease to be “law” and become “life,” meeting our every need.

6. We value our uniqueness, aware that God has formed us as individuals and continues to do so. We have let go of the need to be like others, or to see them as like us.

7. Judgement and division belong to the smallness of human understanding. We know that God’s love is much bigger than human ideas, and that no one is ever lost to that love. In our thinking, we avoid making God too small.

8. We live in an understanding of paradox, knowing the strength in weakness, the richness of poverty, the fullness of emptiness, the gain that comes from loss, the resurrections that follow our little crucifixions. We have learned to trust that the lessons in life school have all been for our spiritual growth.

9. When we were young we had a lot of questions about life. Maybe we didn’t get the answers we wanted; but now the questions themselves have disappeared. In life of faith, those questions seem irrelevant.

10. Our faith has become much simpler. It is all held in three words: God is love.

11. We no longer identify with our bodies. They are like coats we’ve worn for many years. They have served us well but now they are getting old and threadbare. When they no longer serve us, we will discard them and return to the love for which we were made.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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