by Don Ingwerson
Recently I had the privilege of spending a weekend with a delightful couple who at one point expressed concern about the concept of aging. Of the two, my male friend seemed especially concerned. Here was a man who had successfully mastered the financial and political world – but was unsure how to master what he perceived as the onslaught of age. He instinctively felt age shouldn’t be a guaranteed downer, but wondered how he could reverse or resist the decades of aging theories he had mentally digested. He commented that when he was in business, his greatest successes were achieved when he refused to accept limitation – even if it appeared inevitable. The foundation for his success? Cultivating a close relationship with God – listening spiritually for divine guidance in his business and personal affairs.
He recognized that this humble approach of listening for divine guidance could help him in the aging arena, too.
My friend is not alone in seeking a new perspective on aging. Dr. Bill Thomas, a Harvard-trained medical geriatrician, holds that happiness is very much a straight line throughout life, not a “hill” with some type of decline or decrease in happiness as we age. Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks, takes this idea one step further by saying that it is fear of aging that appears to affect happiness and satisfaction in life, stating that “From childhood on, we’re barraged by messages that it’s sad to be mature.” Instead of taking these downer messages to heart, Applewhite suggests removing the fear of maturation by debunking accepted aging stereotypes.
The same could be said for many age-related diseases, according to Mary Baker Eddy, who, more than a century ago, wrote extensively on the relationship between health and spirituality. That is, she showed us that it is fear of disease that allows it to become an obstacle to expressing the ageless identity that we all reflect from God.
Eddy offered an answer to our present concerns about aging when she wrote in the 1889 Christian Science Series: “…expecting an increase of usefulness and vigor from advanced years with as much faith as you look for decrepitude and ugliness, a favorable result would be sure to follow. The added wisdom of age and experience is strength, not weakness, and we should understand this, expect it, and know that it is so, then it would appear.”
Her basis for expecting us to be able to find and express this favorable result is that she perceived life as spiritual, without beginning or end (more like a circle), as opposed to the straight line of materialistic life we are so relentlessly asked to accept. Understanding this unlimited concept of our divine identity promotes the expression of agelessness.
Once this circle idea of life is embraced, fear is countered naturally and the limitations of age are defeated. In the Bible there is mention of God’s fearless support for man: “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” (Deut. 31:8)
I know these spiritually based truths can help anyone – including my friends – in the quest for a new and renewing recognition of their spiritual identity that is ageless and unlimited.