This blog post was written by Ray McCracken. He shares his wisdom on aging, gleaned from a unique experience with elder religious brothers and priests.
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.”
One thought on “aging, the gift of days (a guest blog)”
Here is a story about aging and the struggle with God.
Nikos Kazantzakis, writer and philosopher, who wrote both “Zorba the Greek”, and “The Last Temptation of Christ”, “Life of St. Francis” – when he was a young man interviewed an old monk on the Mount Athos. At one stage he asked him: “Do you still struggle with the devil?” “No,” replied the monk, “I use to, but I’ve grown old and tired and the devil has grown old and tired with me. Now I leave him alone and he leaves me alone!” “So, your life is easy then,” Kazantzakis asked, “no more struggles?” “Ah, no,” replied the monk, “it’s worse. Now I struggle with God!”
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