Words of wisdom are hard to come by these days. I just don't seem to take the time to wax philosophically - it takes too much brain power. However, since you brought up the subject of age, I have enclosed a letter that was written to a friend recently on the occasion of his 63rd birthday. Since I never seem to have time for Facebook these days, I am sending this out to all our classmates. That way I have covered all the bases in one communiqué.
“They say it’s your birth day; happy birthday to you.” The Beatles White Album 1968
Did you ever imagine that you would be this old? My father recently celebrated his 89th birthday. When I called him that day, we discussed that very subject. It seems that no matter what our age, the soul is ageless. He told me that he feels like a young man inside a worn out body and daily struggles to reconcile the paradox. I must admit the same feelings, as I presume you do too.
There are a few positive things one can say about aging; time gives us the opportunity to get to know one another much better, which is especially the case in my relationships with my wife and my Lord. Also, I think that there is a certain dignity that comes with age, and certainly one’s perspective on the passing of time is wiser. The following was written on the occasion of the passing of my 65th last August.
Some days I just feel old. I’m not really that old but I am getting there. Today I passed the “Medicare Milestone” – not one that a person looks forward to – but now that I am on the other side I realize that like the other major milestones along the way, one just keeps moving forward. I am graying and wrinkling and gaining weight and sagging in places that I should not be. When I look at myself, I don’t like what I see. I want to see that youthful body that belongs to the young man inside. It is not just the physical attributes, the mental acuity seems to be lagging and though I am constantly reading, writing and challenging myself with working through life’s tough questions, I sometimes get lost in the fog. I try to keep up with current events, the latest trends, with what is going on, but I find that it is all moving much too fast. When I am around young people I feel like a has-been.
Age of course is a relative thing. Sometime ago I was in Scotland and visited Edinburgh Castle. The foundations of this incredible bastion were laid in the 600’s AD. This castle has been a work in progress for 1400 years. As I wondered around I noticed workmen repairing the cobblestone paving and there was scaffolding in places where the ancient buildings were being refurbished. Maybe that’s what I need, some renovation, a fresh coat of paint.
As I think about age I realize that I like old things. Things that are well used, that have been handled by human hands, develop a patina that new things don’t have. When a thing is well used it means that it provides a worthwhile service - that it was well made and because of its usefulness has been cared for. Being used gives a thing character. Nicks and scars and chipped paint all are signs of character, and character gives old things dignity.
Perhaps I would be better off to think of myself that way: useful, well used, possessing that certain patina that gives one dignity. I like that better than feeling like and old has-been. Maybe getting older isn’t all that bad.
When I was much younger I learned this little verse and have tried to keep it in mind whenever I am feeling the “has been” melancholy.
I’d like to be a “could be”, if I could not be an “are,”
I’d rather be a “has been” than a “might have been” by far,
‘cause a “might have been” has never been but a “has been” was an “are.”
I are dignified!
When I think about birthdays I think about the passing of time and that always fills me with mixed emotions; sometimes appreciation, sometimes melancholy, always expectation of what is to come.
I am wishing you a birthday filled with the joy of His presence. I hope that you take comfort in knowing that even before you were born you were known by your Creator, and that He continues to love you. Knowing that you were born for the special purpose of being loved by God and to praise Him for His righteousness is the best birthday gift of all. Remember this and every birthday will be filled with gratitude. I pray that your life has meaning and purpose because He lives inside you and is using you for His purpose.
May you feel the love, peace, and joy that God gives as a birthday present to you,