A fresh look at aging

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Every day, a woman who's 81 years old walks about a mile from her home in the country to buy food in town and then back home again. Sometimes her grandson is with her; otherwise she goes alone. This has been her habit for years, and it feels quite natural to her.

All of us can think of those who are inspirations of vigor and wholeness in their later years. But sometimes facing later years or even middle age for ourselves or in support of another isn't so easy. We may long to look and feel young again, and there are all kinds of antiaging remedies offered in creams, surgery, exercise, and food that promise a fountain of youth. But most people would agree that more is needed than just some surface adjustments.

Facing advanced years requires courage, patience, and compassion. It also provides an opportunity to prove that contrary to general opinion, vitality and strength don't have to stop because the years have moved on. The reality is that we are spiritual beings, ageless. We can pray to God to reveal more of the unlimited capacities and abilities that belong to us as God's spiritual sons and daughters.

Eternal Life, God, is without beginning and without end, and provides each of us with inexhaustible freedom, creativity, and freshness. Accepting a spiritual basis for life brings undeclining, abundant activity. We are never without purpose. As we pray to see our identity as the image and likeness of eternal Life, mental and spiritual qualities of thought continue to bloom, undimmed by material laws of time, age, and heredity.

Because eternal Life is Love, we can pray to feel God's love for us through the active expression of Life's qualities in every aspect of our lives. In the presence of God's ever-active love, we can't feel a life that's slowing down or a body that's overcome with increasing aches and pains.

The book of Psalms in the Bible offers songs of praise, words of encouragement, and solid promises to all humanity on the subject of age. One such promise reads: "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him" (Ps. 92:12–15).

Thriving in the prosperity of good that comes from right thinking is natural to each of us as God's child, no matter what age we are. Being conscious of this God-given heritage reveals more, not less, activity, joy, satisfaction, and clarity. It glorifies God, dwells neither on personal accomplishment nor failure, and enables us to serve God, not the body.

A woman in her 30s was having difficulty moving freely because of pain in her neck. Reaching out to God in prayer, she recalled this statement from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy: "Even Shakespeare's poetry pictures age as infancy, as helplessness and decadence, instead of assigning to man the everlasting grandeur and immortality of development, power, and prestige" (p. 244).

As the woman continued to pray, it dawned on her that development was spiritual and therefore immortal – without a single element of declining or giving up. The pain began to lessen and was completely gone in a couple of days. As she had prayed, she realized that she was very concerned about the thought of her dad getting older. Her prayer also helped her stay inspired to see the spiritual identity of her dad and everyone, and to more consistently challenge aging as a part of anyone's true identity.

This kind of prayer opens the way for us to see, as Science and Health states, that "each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness" (p. 246).

Thine age shall be clearer
than the noonday;
thou shalt shine forth,
thou shalt be as the morning.
Job 11:17

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