The Good Old Days

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

According to author Jacob D. Eppinga, “the good old days” can be understood more literally to mean “the good days now that we are old.” How do we square that with the popular idea in our culture that would have us believe that it is horrible to grow old? Much of the media is full of this idea that we must not show our age.  We are bombarded by advertisements that promise if we use certain products we will retain that “youthful glow” or “turn back the hands of time.” It’s as if old age is something to be avoided at all costs, as if that were possible.  Is there anything good about aging? What do you think?

Living in the Midwest all my life, I have survived the coming and going of many seasons in their order and their yearly cycle.  There is spring time with its blossoming beauty, and a chance to walk outside unencumbered by extra layers of clothes. For allergy sufferers though it can be difficult. Much to the chagrin of the parents of school aged children, summer follows closely on the heels of spring.  With it comes hotter temperatures and longer days. Right now in Autumn, the trees have taken on the beautiful hues that could only have come from the brush of a Master Painter. Look closely at the pretty hues. For they do not last long. Soon will come winter, which to some appears only cold and dark.  Yet to others, it represents the excitement of new adventures in cold weather activities and a sense of awe at the millions of snowflakes glistening in the sun. Some welcome the opportunity to hunker down indoors, surrounded by the warmth of loved ones.

Just as God gave each season of the calendar something unique and beautiful  so it is with life which has its own spring, summer, fall and winter.  There is not one year or time of our lives that is more valuable to God than the others.  God created us  and called us “good.”  He loves us because He fashioned us, breathed life into us, and made us in His own image.  Because He is our maker, He watches us with the delight of a parent watching their children change and grow.

In the Bible, old age is something to be respected.  There is a certain type of insight brought about by the wisdom that can only come from reflecting on life experiences.  Our elders lived through a wide variety of work experience, family life, and societal changes from which we can all learn.  Not only that, but in the “winter” of one’s life there often comes, if a person remains open to it, a sense of acceptance of their life in its entirety.  This can result from time spent in deep contemplation and a strengthening of one’s faith.

Just as the the colored leaves of the autumn tree branches gradually fall gently  to the ground, life’s pretenses in old age start to fall away.  With that comes a type of simplicity.  I felt that simplicity as I held my grandma’s hand in her last few days of life.  (That hand I held: the same hand that gripped mine thirty some years before as she helped me roll balls of cookie dough to bake and then enjoy together). I watched as she slipped away and entered into the new life her Heavenly Father had prepared for her. All these days of “falling leaves” a sort of stripping away, so as to meet her heavenly Father ready to gather in her arms the splendor of what was to come. As I witnessed that sacred ending and beginning, all I could think was how wonderful it was that God loved her through all of these years. All of the seasons with their highs and lows, their easy and hard days, joys and sorrows. Sure there had been times of hardship in each season.  But even in the winter of her life, there was much beauty to behold. And if there is beauty there, who are we to deny or despise the aging process?  If all of our days are sacred to God, can we try to find the sacred in each day, in each season?

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