“Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:
Lord, you know better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.
Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples' affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But, you know Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.
Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains -- they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.
I will not ask you for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn't agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.
Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint -- it is so hard to live with some of them -- but a harsh old person is one of the devil's masterpieces.
Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.
― Margot Benary-Isbert
What is more fearful than aging?
Dying perhaps, but we all know we must die. We don't all age. Some die young, some die quickly and suddenly---even unaware of their final moments.
But for some, the long years of aging--considered a decline in strength, ability, value, and even acceptance--is too difficult to ponder and seems an unavoidable and ugly end to life.
What if we thought of it differently?
What if we considered aging the final stage of growth, a time when we spend more energy on those elements of ourselves that will live forever: spirit, character, and personality? Can this be accomplished and sustained?
Yes, it can. For Christians, aging represents the final stage of completing our earthly assignments. Aging represents a time when our knowledge and accumulated experiences can be used to bless others. They can also be used to bless us if we are willing to know the lessons our lives have taught us.
The tendency to regret and look back more than we celebrate and look forward is the great temptation of aging. Leave regrets where they are. Do not bring them into your current experience. Memory is not a reliable barometer of time well spent. If you are aging, you have survived the mistakes of your past and that is a reason for celebration. If you are seeking to age well, that is a sign your mistakes made you better and not worse than you might have been.
In a time of age discrimination in employment, the fear --sometimes understandable--of outliving one's financial resources, uncertain access to medical services, and the persistent loneliness that attacks so many of the aging, it's important to ask how one can age well.
1) Seek God's will for your time of aging. If you are here, there is a reason and purpose for your presence. You may have a totally a different experience from the aging process you witnessed in parents or other relatives. Are you open to that?
2) Work on sustaining relationships that are meaningful. Yes, many of the people you have known and loved are no longer here. Their absence does not mean you must be lonely. Find a time and place where you can connect with people who value you and what you have to offer. Make no assumptions about where that place may be or what it will look like. Make no assumptions about who those people will be or what they will look like or how you will find them. Are you open to this?
3) Nurture your spiritual life. Yes, you may know more than many of the younger people around you. This does not mean there are no more lessons for you to learn, books to read, experiences to enjoy, or challenges to face. You will never lose the spiritual element of your life. Therefore, the spiritual life must always be nurtured.
4) Take good care of yourself physically. Without good health, your options are very limited. If you are struggling with health concerns, make them spiritual concerns and seek health and restoration through prayer, worship, and acceptance of good and competent medical advice.
5) Know that in life or in death, we belong to God. No one gets out of here alive. The comfort of knowing we are never beyond God's concern and care will carry all of us in our final years and days on this planet. It is this knowledge that gives us the drive and energy to use well every day given to us by the One Who Never Leaves Us.