Never Feel Old

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dear Linwood Family and Friends,


This is the headline that trumpeted from the top of a publication we received in the mail three days ago.  Ever since seeing it, I have found myself unsettled and disturbed.  If this is something that is designed to engage the desire of the masses (certainly that is its intent), what does it say about us?

I am still pondering this – but here are some random thoughts…

• NEVER  feel old?  NEVER?    I am now 66.  What happens if I get to be 70, or 80, or 90, or 98 (The age my mother died)?  Does this mean I am NEVER allowed to feel old?

•  Never FEEL old.  Does this mean I never have to feel old because I never get old?  That doesn’t make sense.  The days, the years march on.  There is only one alternative to getting older, and that is death!  While as a Christian I don’t fear death – in fact there is a part of me that eagerly anticipates being in eternity – I am also very happy to wait some more years before being called Home!  So, I guess this means that even though I am getting old, I am not supposed to feel old.

•  The subtitle is “A plan for endless energy, beauty, and health.”  It sounds like there is now a new trilogy of superior, endless attributes.  I thought it used to be “faith, hope, and love” that abide forever.  But now, at least in our world, “faith, hope, and love” have been upgraded to “energy, beauty, and health.”!

•  The most disturbing thing of all is a culture that has determined that “young” is good and “old” is bad.  I can’t remember the last time I read an article declaring “Never Feel Young”!  We live in a culture that has decided that “young/new” is vibrant, smart, with it, desirable, valuable.  And, on the other hand, the “old/used” is worn out, dumb, out of touch, disposable, and worthless.

•  Most of the time, the “old” that are celebrated are those who do things you expect to be done by the young.  Think President Bush (the “old” one) parachuting, Betty White acting and talking as if she were a sexy young woman, the woman who wins the 100 yard dash in the Senior Olympics.

•  Many cultures view old as an age of honor and distinction and privilege.  There are cultures in which turning 70 is the most exciting moment in a person’s life because he/she has attained the status of an “elder.”  In our culture we all claim to be eternally 30!

•  What about the Scriptures?  They come out of a time and a culture when “old” was good – very good!  Often the Bible talks of someone as reaching a “good old age” or a “full age.”  “Gray hair is a crown of glory.” (Proverbs 16:31)  O.k., how many dollars are spent each year dying gray hair to various colors and shades?

•  Back to “energy, beauty, and health.”  It strikes me that all three of these are “outward” things, not inward things.  Thank you, God, for energy, beauty, and health!  Yet, it seems to me that an important part of the journey of life is moving from a reliance on the outward gifts to a reliance on the inward ones – trust, generosity, joy, hope, caring…love.

•  With every change there is loss.  That includes moving from elementary school to middle school, from being single to being married, from unemployed to employed, from children at home to empty nest, from being 30 to being 50 to being 66!  And, loss needs to be mourned.  That mourning enables us to let go and take hold of the blessings that come with the new time.

•  I drop things more often than I used to.  I spill food on my shirt;  I forget things;  I moan and groan when I try to get out of a low chair, I get tired long before I think I should – all more than I used to.  Every once in awhile I say to Jan, “I FEEL OLD!” – and it’s not a good feeling.

•  A few years ago I found myself marrying sons and daughters of people I had married long before; baptizing babies of babies I had baptized; handing out Bibles to 3rd graders who were children of 3rd graders who had received Bibles from me.  I found myself thinking, “I feel old.” – and it was a good feeling!

•  The pastor who replaced me at Bay Presbyterian has been very gracious to me and Jan.  Occasionally we will meet; he will talk about things going on at BPC, and then ask, “Do you have any thoughts about any of this?”  Hearing about so much that used to be a part of my life – but no longer is – makes me feel old.  But then, being asked what I think about things, I not only feel old, but I feel good!

•  A pastor friend was called to a large church to take the place of the retiring pastor.  I asked my friend how it was going.  His answer, “Great!  My job is to celebrate him (the retiring pastor); his job is to empower me.”  Isn’t that a healthier was to look at the ages?  The job of the young is to celebrate the old; and the job of us old is to empower the young.”

•  I wonder – do we (especially us the boomers) want to stay young so we have “energy, beauty, and health”?  Of do we want to stay young so we can stay in charge – in control – and not have to let go to the next generations?   If we are unwilling to empower the next generation to be the leaders and decision makers of our society, then that makes it very difficult for the younger generations to honestly celebrate us.

•  This youth worshiping, outward appearance focused society is so well developed (and economically driven) that I seriously doubt if it will every change.  Sadly, we are paying a great price by not honoring the wisdom and understanding that comes only with age and with walking with God through the years.  And we are weakened when we are not able entrust and empower the next generations with the freedom and resources they need to take responsibility for this world.

•  The good news is that God is the God of all ages.  In Isaiah 46:4, we read, “Even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you.  I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”

•  Someday I may preach a sermon titled, “How to Feel Old and Feel Good.”  I wonder if that title were on the bulletin board in front of the Tabernacle, would anybody come?

These are the things I have been pondering the last few days.  What do you think?

Yours in Christ,
Hu Auburn, Linwood Park Pastor

p.s. – This was supposed to go out last week, but I didn’t get it together in time.  Is that because I am getting  old?

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3 Responses to Never Feel Old

  1. andy says:

    Seems to me that feeling old is a state of mind — more attitude than substance, more reflection than perception.

  2. Gere Flick says:

    While I agree with Andy, the only problem is I can’t remember what state (both physical and mental) I am in all the time.

    • S.Gull says:

      A state of mind or physics – the Right Reverend Auburn appears to have nailed it with his comment, “With every change there is loss.”

      High school physics (if memory serves): entropy is decreasing. As agents of change, we are shepherds of change – therein lies the rub.

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