Monday, February 28, 2011


"The glory of young men is their strength,
but the splendor of old men is their gray hair." - Proverbs

My philosophy on aging has been to live hard-ish and hope that you die young-ish. As I've approached my mid-30s I've added the "ishes."

Life is something we hold onto. Flip on your TV and just take a cursory glance at it's messages and it'll be all about trying to expand you life or "youthanizing" yourself (I just came up with that term!). But all humans everywhere are forced to observe that death marches on to it's final destination, and frankly, it's just not pretty.

My dad's turning 60 next month, my grandparents are in or approaching their early 90s. Death looms. And it's not fun.

I don't like letting go. I experienced this in my last caving trip, desperately clinging to a rope in the dark, only to find I was about 6-and-a-half inches off the ground. Maybe life is sort of like this.

Life certainly goes by fast. Anyone with young children can stand up and attest. Of course, anyone with young children shouldn't be trusted as they're out of it. The fact is is that their days are spent trying to repress all of their natural instincts: the one to wring small necks, the one to throw and shake small bodies, the one to yell, pull hair and the one to scream, shout and say things like "I know you are but what am I!" In my experience I wonder who's raising who.

But as our presents quickly zip into the past things happen. Wrinkles begin to appear, bellies that we claim are "just a little bloated" stay bloated and we begin to miss lunch appointments with friends because they need to "pass a kidney stone" (I still think that's a lame excuse). And all the while, as beauty fades, or at least in my case semi-decent good looks fade, we deny, deny and deny. I like denial, it's the swiss-army knife of human emotions.

But rather than living in denial, I've been mourning death's march these days. I don't like seperation. I don't like loss. I don't like hurt. And death hurts deep.

This is where I'm supposed to spin my blog and talk about where the Gospel brings hope and healing. And it does, but it doesn't take us out of the process.

Christ will indeed wipe away every tear one day. But it doesn't mean we won't be crying rivers as we see death gripping everyone we love.

And I think there's something deeper that we miss when we fight the effects of death. Not only are we not accepting reality, we may be missing something that, while painful, has a beauty of it's own. Perserverence and wisdom are granted to those who age well. "...the splendor of old men is their gray hair."

While we may gradually lose our minds, go back to diapers and become grizzled and mean and afraid of teenagers, there's something about having survived life that's rich and beautiful.

As I was talking with my Grandmother the other night, she was telling me that God makes aging so painful that we're ready to go by the time we go. Perhaps this is a grace.

Really, I don't know what I'm writing about, yet with all the teens I work with who call me old all the time I probably feel a false sense of entitlement on the subject. I could write on and on about how our culture doesn't honor the elderly, and that's very very sad and true. But I think I'm going to conclude with the sentiment we find in scripture: That God understands aging. That God honors those who age with His grace and find his wisdom in the process.

And God cares for his children. And as we come into the world as children, we often leave like children and God loves kids.

Of course, I'm not going to age, I'm going to go down in a furious blaze of glory. Here's to living hard and going down in a blaze of glory. If I do, I hope I run into one of those cheesy church signs that say something like "Free Tickets to Heaven, Details Inside." May all cheesy church signs burn for eternity.
And to close let's not forget that "though our outer self is wasiting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." I for one want to be in on that.

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