Saturday, July 01, 2006

Foolish Youth

I was channel-surfing last night and something on PBS caught my eye. I always think it's pretty funny to watch the "gurus" of worldly opinion for a few minutes and see what the latest is in the wisdom of this world. But this time, the man they were showing was right on the money. I mean, you could tell he had a total new-age worldview and that always creeps me out, but the things he said, for the minutes I watched, really held water for the most part.

He really got me thinking. The whole thing was on healthy aging, from recommending various forms of exercise, to not associating age with shame. He pointed out that those who are older have beauty and dignity all their own, much to share and pass down, and just as much value as other ages. He advocated respect and desegregation for the older class. On these points I very much agree with him. I believe that once something becomes old in our society, whether a person or an object, our society finds it all too easy to dump it and find a younger model.

I've been very much provoked to thought lately on the lives of the elderly and how people treat and think about them. Micah wrote an excellent post about widows that was very thought-provoking. In everyday life outside the blogosphere, I've been reminded of it too. There's the recently widowed woman in need of loving care. Then there's the woman with Alzheimer's who keeps having to be reminded that she has now outlived her last child and is now dependent simply on the friends she's made along the way. There are also numerous people getting married--making lifelong vows. And the thought crops up in my mind: Is there as much love and attention shown to you when you're in your eighties as when you're eighteen? I think not.

I know, the older ones may be harder to relate to. After all, you can't often email back and forth with them, and they may not hear all that well. But they have things to offer that nobody in our generation can. And from another angle, they have needs that others our age do not as much, such as needing a physical hand or a listening ear. We can serve them in unique ways, and they can teach and share in unique ways.

Our culture is continuously replacing people, afraid of thinking at all about mortality. Men and women leave their spouses for someone younger; maybe they just feel bored and want somebody who will serve them better. The celebrities acclaimed last week are now abandoned; as soon as they show any infirmity, they are gone from the public eye. As soon as grandparents have sign of illness, they're transported away from family, to be forgotten in long-term care.

If our culture continues to hide away those who may be our greatest asset, we will surely see the effects.

The Church must be different. We are not called to "Love your brother--until he needs a hip replacement." We are to be there, nurturing, filling in the gaps that they can no longer take care of. I know that I need to grow in this area. I know of many needs that could be taken care of, whether visiting people in nursing facilities, spending time helping people with their homes, or just being there to listen. There is so much opportunity to serve. We need to look around and get to know those who own the wrinkles.


  • At 7/01/2006 11:56 AM, Blogger Gods girl said…

    This is a really good post. I think it is true that after a while people just get tired of the people they have a want something new and exciting. Love you!!

  • At 7/02/2006 3:02 PM, Blogger Leila said…

    It's so true, Katie. I remember a few times visiting a church with an "older" congregation and being blown away at the depth, wisdom, love, and peace they have. We have MUCH to learn from them.

  • At 7/13/2006 5:34 PM, Blogger J.OTIS MERSTER said…

    I think this is a cultural weakness-wanting everything new, and wanting to remodel this and reshape that. Out with the old, in with the new. A clean sweep, just like the show. This characteristic comes at a great price. This is true of church, with church hopping, people too "cool" to commit to one church, marriage commitments routinely broken and seen as a joke, people gleefully throwing out perfectly good furniture so that their home will have a more cohesive theme. It's a problem of this age, and most people aren't even aware of it.


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