Beyond the question of age

A Christian Science perspective.

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"ACT YOUR AGE!" That parental response to an overexuberant child is meant to restore calm and impose order – for the moment at least. And for kids, it serves a purpose.

But for those approaching the time when they'd rather not receive birthday cards, it can carry a very different connotation. Then the natural hope is to be seen as younger and smarter, especially if they find themselves interviewing for a job.

As an interviewee in such situations, I found it effective to market my potential and not my past experience. If age was perceived as a distracting factor, I made a point of facing down and invalidating that perception. As a Christian Scientist, I would reason in Mary Baker Eddy's words that I lived in an "eternal noon, undimmed by a declining sun." Also that "as the physical and material, the transient sense of beauty fades, the radiance of Spirit should dawn upon the enraptured sense with bright and imperishable glories" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 246).

Aging is an academic study today, as well as a big business. Universities have major commitments to gerontology. "At my age" begins an excuse many people voice to avoid accountability – maybe jokingly, maybe not. We hear "At your age" used to explain a perceived physical or mental deficiency or excess. "Senior" is a label to make older people feel like graduates.

All that may seem like fun to some people, but there are others who seriously want to continue as an effective part of the workforce, to contribute to today's needs from their particular wealth of experience – and to receive a paycheck. During job interviews, I tended to use the phrase "At my stage of development," because that really describes where individuals are as they continue to develop in that "eternal noon."

When it comes to human interaction, whether it's a job interview, a consultation, or just a discussion, I always felt it effective to see the other person and myself as equals. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: "For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality" (II Cor. 8:13, 14). Sure, there may be some disparity in knowledge or information, but that can best be examined between equals. Even age differences can be effectively disregarded. The number of years gone by is not important. What we think and do now is what's important. Abraham Lincoln said it right: "It's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years."

No wonder Mrs. Eddy wrote: "Never record ages. Chronological data are no part of the vast forever" (Science and Health, p. 246). And that applies to all men and women, not just some.

If we value that injunction, we won't relate the acts of others, or of ourselves, to some numbered stage in people's lives. It's not easy, because the suggestions may never seem to end – such as sudden hesitation or a stumble, an ache or stiffness, a challenging staircase, a so-called senior moment. But whether the mental suggestion comes as a deafening shout or a seductive whisper, prayerful, God-based thinking brings healing.

Humanity tends to think of "age" as that point where people are somewhere along that arc of life between birth and death, as in a work of fiction. And fiction is what divine reasoning shows it to be. If we could be like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's timeless Little Prince, we would sit on that small planet up there and look at the earth, and know that time and age are solely the concoction of the earth, its rotation, and its relation to its sun. There is no other origin of the time concept.

If you find yourself rejected on account of age, you can resist the temptation to accept that – give it your own rejection, as not based on spiritual fact. In such cases, it's especially critical to reinforce an awareness of everyone's true identity as God's ageless reflection, and then get on with the quest to find the right place that the divine Mind will direct you to.

As individuals progress in replacing the illusion of time with a firm understanding of their identity as God's reflection, they unleash an abundant divine power in their lives. It takes shape in a form they can recognize and appreciate, as applicable to everyone. God's sons and daughters have eternal being, because God is eternal. So, whether human records show they are 7, 17, 37, or 77, they remain as ageless as God is.

Reprinted from the Christian Science Sentinel.

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