by Ken Rolheiser
Aging gracefully with God

The other day I fell down the stairs, Instead of getting upset, I just thought, “Wow, that’s the fastest I’ve moved in years!”

I am glad you noticed something wrong with the title of this column. God is not getting older. When we finally join God, we will be out of the loop of time. Meanwhile there is much to reflect on.

Enjoying good health is something we can work on given the right tools and God’s blessing. Most of us have a secret youth inside us. When we look in the mirror, we see someone that appears older than we are. Truly, we don’t age inside.

“I am old, but I am forever young at heart. We are always the same age inside. Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is special and precious; you can only live it once. Do not regret growing older, it’s a privilege denied to many.” -Richard Gere.

In “Heart Health” the Cleveland Clinic says your heart may be aging faster than you are. In half of men and twenty per cent of women in the United States this is true. Factors that make the heart age faster are: chronological age, gender, family history, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, weight and diabetes. 

You can turn back the clock on your heart age by: taking control of chronic disease or conditions, maintaining a normal weight, being active, not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, regular check-ups, and addressing unusual symptoms.

Staying young at heart can be fun and involves positive aspects of living. Getting involved in the arts can make life more pleasant. “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake,” says Kurt Vonnegut. 

Vonnegut goes on to say, “Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Creativity is a gift from God. To create something is to share in God’s work.

Staying young spiritually can be fun and requires actively engaging life. We may need to get off our sofas, get a pair of walking shoes, take the path of the “craziness” of our God who teaches us to encounter him in the less fortunate. 

The attitude we should have, St James tells us, is, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” We are God’s writers and artists, his workers and homemakers. We are stewards of creation, God’s co-workers.

Menno Simons (1496-1561) gave us the hymn “True Evangelical Faith”. The moving lyrics challenge us:
 True evangelical faith cannot sleep, 
for it clothes the naked, it comforts the sorrowful, 
it gives the hungry food and it shelters the destitute

It cares for the blind and lame, the widow and orphan child…
It binds up the wounded man, it offers a gentle hand…

Abundantly we have received, and gratefully we will respond…
So overcome evil with good, return someone’s hatred with love…

The greatest gift we have to share with the world is the message of God’s love Jesus came to tell us about. “God is Love.” (1 John 4:8). 1 Corinthians 4:1 tells us, “We are stewards of the mysteries of God”. That is rather exciting! We get to work with the “mysteries of God”. God trusts us to do the task Jesus came to earth to do.

(573 words)