I heard somone say, “I don’t want to live much beyond 70, because all your systems break down after that.” Coming up on 70 myself, I don’t think I agree with that!
I was trying to recruit a friend to the Board of Trustees at Warren Wilson College. He would have made a strong trustee because of his background and experience. He declined immediately saying, “I’m almost 75, and after 75 you begin to shuffle.”
I have thought quite a bit about this process of aging again. Maybe because my title at PPC is “Minister of Senior Adults,” or it’s because my mother is 89, and our family has had to deal with many of her health and attitude issues.
I’ve concluded that if we do live after 70, we are blessed to have relatively good health, a few friends, and something constructive to do. Having lived with a pinched nerve in my neck for nearly three months now, I understand how a health issue can beat you down and change your life in negative ways. On those days when I have been mostly pain free, I sometimes startle myself by realizing, “I feel o.k. just now, and I thank God for that, and for all the years I’ve had with no health problems.”
Here’s a prayer written by an old woman in the 17th century.
Lord, thy knowest better than I know myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say
something on every subject and, on every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy,
With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all.
But, Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind from the recitals of endless details.
Give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains.
They are increasing and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the time goes by.
I do not ask for Grace enough to enjoy the tales
of other's pain but, help me endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but, for a
growing humility and a lessening cocksureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet
I do not want to be a Saint.
Some of them are so hard to live with.
But, a sour person is the works of the Devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in
unexpected places and talents in unexpected people.
And, give me, O Lord, the Grace to tell them so!