Saturday, January 29, 2011

Age is Relevant

      At a meeting I attended recently, the leader said, “Look at yourself in the mirror tomorrow morning and say, ‘I am beautiful!’” I thought of what I looked like that morning and my first thought was, “I can’t tell myself that!”

      I cannot look at my face the first thing in the morning and honestly tell myself I am beautiful.  After a shower and a shampoo, a styling of my hair and some carefully placed make-up, I may be able to say, “Now I’m acceptable to go out into public,” but I don’t consider myself a beauty by any means!

      I think about many older people my husband and I have known in the past.  When we married, a delightful older couple lived down the hill next-door to us. They were playful, happy people. He was always patting her on the bottom and she frequently brought us freshly-baked bread. They may have been sixty years old, but to me they were ancient. When you are 19, your perception of “elderly” is somewhat skewed.

       As we served in churches where my husband was pastor, many older people graced the pews Sunday after Sunday. Then they arrived at the office during the week, offering to visit newcomers, to cook and clean in the church kitchen, to build a ramp for a member in a wheelchair, and to do numerous things that the younger, working people didn’t have time to do. I remember thinking how beautiful some of these people were because of their personality and their willingness to be of help, not because of the beauty on their faces. 

       Older people today continue to offer to help others, and to do things that other, younger people, do not have time to do. Their smiles, their willingness, the radiance showing in their eyes—these are the traits that let beauty shine through!  Outward appearance is not all there is. Happiness, a sense of purpose, and the love of God inside cause people to be beautiful on the outside.

       In our society, beauty is ascribed to the young. Rarely do you see pictures of elderly people in a setting of beauty, unless the ads are selling something to make the older people feel and look younger. Life seems to say, “You have lost your usefulness now that you are older.”  I look around today, and wonder where the time has gone. Today I am that older person.  My friends and I are the ones doing the volunteer work. I have earned this crown of silver hair that frames my face because I have been on this earth long enough to get it! (how's that for not telling my age?)

       When I was a child, there was a comic strip called ‘Pogo” about a possum who gave tidbits of wisdom along the way.  He would say, “We have found the enemy, and they is us.” Today I can say with Pogo, “We have found the elderly, and they is us!” But there is still a lot to do.  I’m not ready to give up yet! There is always another quilt to make, another picture to paint, another story to write, more books to read, and many more prayers to pray. And there are people who need our help. What can I do today to let the beauty shine through?

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