I'm A Male Aged 83 And Pregnant

A Holy Island pilgrim recently asked me if I have a theology of old age.  This reminded me of Henri Frederic Amiel's saying

To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.

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

Is the apostle Peter still ‘The Rock’ in heaven?  Am I ‘the Founding Guardian’ still in heaven?  Surely our inmost character and calling lives for ever in the heart of God?  Just as a father is a father for ever, although also a son, a brother and a host of other things.  Yes!

Among First Nation peoples the old are the wise men or women, because they have learned from much experience. In ancient Chinese lore the Fifth Season of late light marks a turning in life when knowledge transmutes into knowing; they call this season the Heavenly Pivot. A month before my seventy fourth birthday my soul friend, Peter Neilson, read to me James 1: 2-4 from Eugene Petersen’s The Message:  ‘Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.’

Sister Anke, in her booklet The Creativity of Diminishment (Fairacres) quotes the following from a liturgy of the Taizé Community: ‘The resurrected Christ celebrates His feast of reconciliation in us without ending.’ She urges that as we become diminished or broken we do not become resistant or bitter – instead we should allow ourselves to ‘fall’ into this resurrection feast. This is about letting go, cutting loose the ties to those things that do not last, so that we fall, not into disaster, or nothingness, but into the resurrection feast that Christ is hosting within the true being that we are becoming.

Last week Peter Neilson passed on a pearl of great price from his wife Dorothy.  Dying is like a pregnancy. I have never been pregnant, but I imagine it is painful,  energy diminishes, the furniture of one's life fades, you don't know what is coming next - but always you know that a new life will be born. So I am pregant folks - rejoice!  (Well, the first pangs come and go....!)

The thing about old age is that it has no future!


Posted at 10:13am on 3rd August 2023
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