"The glory of young men is their strength, and the beauty of old men is their gray hair."
Proverbs 20: 29, Amplified Bible
"We thank You, Lord, for the privilege of knowing elderly people; thank You for their experience and wisdom, and the stories they can tell us; be with them if frustration makes them find life difficult, and surround them with Your peace, that they may be aware how very close You are."
"How Time Flies"
"I could not prove that years had feet - yet confident they run."
Has the grief and sorrow of loss touched my life?
Have I ever found myself fearing growing old?
If so, what are my reasons?
"The evening of a well-spent life brings its lamps with it."
"No wise (woman) ever wished to be younger."
In the last three days, we have looked at three strikes that adversely affected the life of the widow who came to the Temple with an offering. She was delivered blows to her value by poverty, by her gender, and by her marital status for she was a widow. From what we can gather, she had one more strike against her - she was considered "older" by societal standards.
Ironically, for most people born on planet earth, the word "elderly" has taken on a variety of meanings throughout history, many directly related to life expectancy. If you were Adam or Methuselah, being 500 wasn't old, instead you were middle-aged. However, at times in this country, 60 was considered old. But with an ever-increasing life span, even 70 doesn't seem that old anymore. Yet sadly, in our world there are still countries where due to poor medical care and severe living conditions, 30 years old for some is considered a major achievement.
I remember when my father died suddenly in his mid-fifties. People kept saying, "Your dad died so young." That is truly how I felt, too. But one thing I learned from my dad's death is that it is not the length of our days but the width of our days that counts. Filling our days with the presence of those we love as well as meaningful endeavors that bless the lives of others makes life worthwhile no matter if we are 50 or 100.
One of the most important lessons I learned about growing old was taught to me during nurse's training. In order to help defray the cost of my college tuition, I worked weekends, evenings and nights in several different "nursing homes." Now called retirement centers or other interesting names, back when I was a student nurse, the facilities I worked at housed mostly bed-ridden older people whose families were unable to provide any type of home-care and so the individual had to be put into a "home."
What frightened most of the older individuals in my care was that they felt they had been forgotten by family and friends. Out of sight - out of mind. They were devalued numbers on a wall, left alone to wilt away.
I was only 18 years-old when I began to work in these "homes" and it wasn't long until some of the patients began to treat me as though I was their grandchild. One day I told the head nurse that one particular woman, who suffered from dementia, was calling me Jean whenever she saw me. The nurse informed me that "Jean" was her daughter who rarely came to visit. "You know," my supervisor said, "Next time you come to work, give your patient a hug and kiss and say, ‘Mom, I'm so happy to see you.'" I did just that and my dear patient was joyous! For a few minutes she was filled with a thought that those she loved really cared for her.
After working around all the patients I met in these retirement homes, I found repeatedly that those individuals who were happiest had filled their lives with spiritual and emotional meaning. They loved well—and they loved all!
May loving days fill our lives and may we never forget or devalue those whose lives contain many years, for what we shall find, if we take the time, is that they contain a wealth of wisdom, joy and love for us, as well.
"Years…should be nothing to you. Who asked you to count them or to consider them? In the world of wild nature, time is measured by seasons only—the bird does not know how old it is - the rose-tree does not count its birthdays!"
The Life Everlasting
"We fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen…so we are always full of courage."
2 Corinthians 4: 18
"Don't let me be afraid of aging, God. Let me rejoice and reach
out to be replenished; I know that each day I can be reborn into
strength and beauty through You."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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