Grace and Peace to you.
Even though our outer nature is wasting away,
our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
—2 Corinthians 4.16
As I pass my 62nd birthday I think about the gift of aging. Our culture encourages us to resist the journey of aging (“Look ten years younger!”) and sometimes aging is a pain (literally) but it’s a gift. Aging can give us the wisdom born of experience, the maturity of a calm focus that often eludes us in our energetic youth. “When you were young,” Jesus says, “you went where you wanted. When you are old someone fastens a belt around you and leads you where you don’t choose” (Jn. 21.18). Again is a journey of acceptance, receiving life as it is, not as we wish, or try to make it. It invites us to let go, to release the illusions of power and control, no longer defining ourselves by what we can do.
Aging reveals our souls. We can be less attached to power, security and self-image. We are less defined by our outer nature and more by our inner, where strength is resilience and perseverance, not force; and beauty is presence, not appearance. Our youth-oriented culture sees lives as abjects—bodies, really—but with age we see our lives as stories. As our bodies age and even if they become frail, our souls age as well. We come more wholly to inhabit our inner nature which is love. It is the vibrancy of our inner nature that gives our outer nature its beauty, even in old age. Our stories make even our wrinkles and grey hairs beautiful.
At 62 I’m not old yet. But a birthday reminds me to embrace the journey as I care for my outer nature, to become more truly my inner nature. No matter how the outer nature ages, the inner nature only gets better.