Overcoming age limitations
A Christian Science perspective: Ideas on how we perceive age.
Last month, my fellow Canadian Yul Kwon crossed the finish line first in the over-80 category in the Boston Marathon. He follows in the footsteps of other age-defying athletes from Canada who have earned record-breaking honors in track and field in age-elite categories, such as 85-year-old marathoner Ed Whitlock.
Elite in their accomplishments, yes; but in defiance, challenging the stereotype of aging and the decline of our physical skills. Life in that decade, so many of us think, should be spent in retirement and the rocking chair!
It is clear to many, however, that what we accept into our thinking influences our abilities. I have begun to find that the willingness to accept a more spiritual view of health brings the power and presence of a divine influence to our capacities and capabilities. The Bible gives the basis for this spiritual view of us in Genesis 1, where God made man, including male and female, “in his own image” (Genesis 1:27) – an unlimited reflection from an unlimited source.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, challenged the whole concept of man as a mortal shaped and limited by matter. The calendar did not limit her abilities or capabilities. In her 80s she founded The Christian Science Monitor. In addition, she continued to revise her seminal work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” and, with great energy and vitality, nurtured the worldwide growth of her church.
I find in her writings great inspiration to see myself as not limited by what a calendar of time and popular opinion want to dictate about my capabilities. Especially helpful is Mrs. Eddy’s statement: “The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age.” On the same page, she writes: “Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight” (Science and Health, p. 246).
A good friend of mine has a lifestyle that champions this view of unlimited agelessness. She is an athletically energetic grandmother; but on a family holiday, she pulled a leg muscle and was unable to join in the active holiday plans. In an urgent text message, she asked me to pray for her.
The first thing that came to my thought, as I prayed and listened for God’s guidance for inspiration, was in the book of Ephesians (2:19-21): “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”
In conversation, she and I reasoned that being “fitly framed” meant that everything about her was spiritual and moved in harmony, and that nothing could be out of joint or out of place if God, eternal good, was her creator.
These facts about her contradicted the material picture of aging muscles and joints. She decided to keep her daily view of activity and ability focused on “loveliness, freshness, and continuity,” supported by God’s loving provision and care. In a few days, she was completely free to enjoy all of the planned family activities. She later confirmed that the holiday was harmonious for everyone – very “fitly framed” in all aspects!
In our daily activity – whether you are a marathon runner, or just like to walk in the park – we have the ability to challenge the view of ourselves as limited and embrace a spiritual view: one that sees that we express God through qualities such as joy, strength, and spontaneity. Starting from this basis gives us the health and freedom to express God in all that we do.