A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday and Creeping Mortality

Three weeks ago I celebrated my fiftieth birthday, or as I like to refer to it, my half a century. I am still relatively young (although my children think I'm done for) and I feel good and I am generally healthy. But there is not a week that goes by that something happens that reminds me I am fifty years old and not thirty. The weight does not come off as easily as it used to. When I get a good workout in at the gym, I feel it in my joints the next day. When I am working with my tools in the garage, I have to wear my reading glasses in order to use a screwdriver or a hammer. My hair is not as brown as it used to be. The gray is creeping in slowly but surely. And I find myself to be generally more cautious in my life. And anyone who knows me knows that is quite a change-- I, who have been described as one who rushes in where angels fear to tread.
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I don't spend much time thinking about my own death, though I know it will come sooner or later. I am well aware of the aging process going on within me and being noticed by me (and others) on the outside. Such aging is a reminder of my own mortality, which I pray will come much later than sooner, only because there is much more in life I want to experience, and because I believe God has not yet finished with me. But I know that there is no guarantee of anything. And in the big picture of things, that's OK.
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In one sense my creeping mortality is a blessing. It serves to remind me of what's important. The older I get the things that seemed so trivial when I was younger, are more important. I have a sense of urgency to accomplish things I did have not when I was thirty. I am more impatient when it comes to some matters and more patient with others. My aging reminds me of my mortality, and in so doing it also serves as a teacher. There is no age when one is too old to learn. Sadly, there are too many persons who die before they get to experience their creeping mortality; taken away much too early. So, I must remember to be thankful for the experience of aging. Not all get to journey with their mortality into old age.
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As the ashes are placed on our foreheads this day, we are reminded that we are dust and yet Christ has redeemed us. I am doubly blessed this day: to know that Christ has redeemed me, and to journey with Jesus and my mortality toward the end God has in mind for me. Moreover, in this fiftieth season of Lent for me, I know that while I am hopefully going on to perfection, I have definitely not yet arrived. There is more of God's re-creation in store for me, and I must pray and study and serve and submit.
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Remember that you are dust. Remember that Christ has redeemed you.

4 comments:

Mike Helbert said...

Good word, Dr. B.
I, too, having passed the half century mark, am experiencing many of these things. I understand what folks our age mean when they say, "I wish I would have known then what I know now." But, like you, I am beginning to enjoy this journey in new and exciting ways that I could not have 25-30 years ago.
I think this is a good way to begin Lent. With reflections on who we are, and who we are becoming.
O,BTW... happy belated birthday, Old Man!

Danny G said...

Reminds me of the Five for Fighting song "One Hundred Years". I, too, passed 50 a couple of years ago and I do find myself noticing things like the the obituary pages in the paper. Even in relatively rural NE Tennessee I notice that there is at least one person my age or less every day. Also, the passing of my parents' generation has had its impact. Mom and her 7 brothers and sisters are all gone and of Dad's family only one brother is left of 9 siblings after Dad passed. At Dad's funeral one thought I had looking at my brother was "it's our turn now".

Allan Bevere said...

Thanks, Mike!

Allan Bevere said...

Danny,

My father died last June. He was the first of our parents to go. It was probably the first moment in my life where the passing years really struck me in a stark way.