Some friends and I attended a talk given by a spiritually-minded thinker a number of years ago. In his talk he told us that he'd seen a remarkably fit man who was 90 years old. He expounded on how wonderful the man looked.
He then asked us how old we thought he looked. I was trying to figure out how old a 90-year-old would look if he were looking quite good. I came up with 60-something. This seemed like a good answer.
After giving us some time to get it "right" he said, "He looked 90, 90 soul-filled years. Who said that 90 means decrepitude and wrinkles? Where did that concept come from?" Most of us felt properly rebuked for our limited thought of age. He really made me think about age in a whole new way.
I'd been settling comfortably into a grand-parenting role, with a few extra pounds to make me cuddly, a rest in the afternoon because I could take it, and a forgivable pain now and then just to take it easy and let someone do something kind for me, without guilt on my part. The thought I was subtly buying in to was that I deserved to age gracefully. My children were grown. I had done a good job with my duties, and now it was time to rest. Into the sunset I was sailing.
But there is nothing graceful or natural about aging. It is directly opposed to the life that God is creating us to live. We can do something about it instead of giving in to it. We don't need wonder drugs or creams or miracles but right ideas of what life and age really are. I needed to make some changes in my thinking about age, when, overnight, my comfortable aging process came to a sudden halt.
I became the proud parent of a very needy two-year-old granddaughter on a day's notice. One by one, and often with a dose of self-pity, the thoughts tending toward graceful aging had to be let go of and replaced with a more vibrant concept of womanhood. I needed quite a bit of help with this process.
I found some wonderful, supportive ideas in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper. One of them is: "Never record ages. Chronological data are no part of the vast forever. Time-tables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood. Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness" (pg. 246).
This spiritual view of manhood (including womanhood) means to me that I am not limited to the age of a mortal beginning at birth but that I am free to be the expression of all God's qualities at all ages. I am free to feel and express the curiosity and vigor of a two-year-old, the beauty and expectancy of a 20-year-old, the abundance and desirability of a 30-year-old, and the wisdom and settled calm of a beautiful 90-year-old.
My freedom is found in a willingness to quit measuring and limiting what is of God to quit thinking of myself as a physical being and think more of the spiritual qualities that are my true Godlike nature. I find the challenge of giving up my "comfortable" age thoughts becomes a joyous one as each thought of myself is examined and tossed out or embraced, using a higher standard of being as a measurement of what is or isn't really true of me and of each of us as God's children.
Thirteen years later our lives now include a beautiful 9-year-old son as well as a 15-year-old daughter. We are having a wonderful time, and my 20-year-old qualities are alive and well, as are my 50-year-old qualities and 90-year-old qualities. I'm discovering more of my agelessness all the time.
And thine age shall be clearer
than the noonday; thou shalt
shine forth, thou shalt be
as the morning.