Sometimes when I glance at myself in the mirror, I can’t believe my eyes. Is that really me? I’ve just made 60 and it shows, but the mental picture I have of myself remains decades younger. One of the challenges of aging, it seems, is to let go of our vanity, which can be surprised by thinning hair or a slower gait. In a culture obsessed with youth, we are no longer young.
Making peace with our physical appearance and declining abilities is all part of aging with grace. With that journey of acceptance comes a compensating opportunity — with age, we focus less on outward appearances and tend more to who we are on the inside.
Those of us who are privileged to live a mature life know that there is a time to stop trying to turn heads or to climb to the top. We know life is more about how well we know ourselves than it is about how many people know us. This is a spiritual turning. Life moves us to consider the meaning of our mortality.
How will you seek spiritual maturity — to know serenity, to express gratitude, to laugh, to notice beauty and mercy, to insist on justice, to persist, to lay the past to rest, to find forgiveness? I hope I’m writing those into my spiritual autobiography. What about you?
The church where I am pastor, Windward United Church of Christ in Kailua, has started Aging with Grace, a new program initiative. It offers comfortable entry points for seniors and their families who want to learn about community aging resources or participate in leisure activities and volunteer groups. Aging with Grace programs explore the spiritual terrain of aging, asking questions and celebrating the challenges and blessings that face nā kūpuna.
We lift up a simple prayer for spiritual maturity: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
I am going to print that out and place it on my mirror at home. I long to see the reflection of this wise woman’s heart.