In the midst of a recent project where I interviewed 200 senior members of a religious order of brothers and priests, I began to observe that “aging”, which I now see as “the gift of days”, could be the most productive and enjoyable stage of life. I learned that aging is not a failure but a process of growth and diminishment towards our authentic self. As these elderly men shared their life stories with me, I began to see the mystery of aging as God’s desire for us for the fullness of spiritual development and union with God. Through the lens of these brothers and priests, aging could be seen as our deepest human desire for holiness by the embracing of limits and loss.
This project made me look at my own aging process. I am 66 years old. I began to ask myself, how is my outgrowing where I have been and aging actually a God driven event? This continues to be a profoundly human question that requires reflection. What is the meaning of this, it is not just biology? There must be a soul meaning. Why is it that the loss of energy and the loss of productivity, the loss of some of the old pleasures in life, open up a deeper reality?
The culture identifies “aging” with failure. The challenge here is befriending the evolution of what God is about in you. Aging is not any failure on your part but God working on your wisdom and creating you as you truly need to be. “Old age is not a punishment but a victory.”