Growing Younger As You Grow Older
I got out of bed the other morning, and my back decided to not work correctly for some reason. It was so bad I couldn't rise from the bed or later from my desk chair without much pain.
I don't remember doing anything to it the day before. I had made no sudden movements, lifted nothing extra heavy, or otherwise wrenched it in any way. No reason it should have suddenly been wracked with sharp pains and stiffness.
Then a friend delivered the diagnosis after I informed them what was happening. "Sucks to get old," they told me.
Most of the time, I don't feel like I'm getting any older. Still, when I experience sobering moments, like when a friend decides to get wise, combined with actual stabbing, unexplainable pain, it's enough to shake my confidence.
"I'm not old," I muttered to my friend through clenched teeth.
Shortly after, I remembered something I read this summer while making the rounds to various art museums as part of my journeys. It was a quote from the artist Pablo Picasso, which went something like this:
It takes one a long time to become young.
That quote was so amazing to me. It came from an artist who had explored the depths of his own soul and kept reducing his art down to the most basic and expressive levels.
It came from someone who realized that if you are willing, you can discover a kind of youth and vitality that can only come when you let go of the fear of death and fall in love with living.
I heard a phrase some time ago that I have used on more than one occasion: "Youth is wasted on the young."
As cynical as this might seem, it speaks to a profound revelation that comes with age, and a bit of wisdom from the late pop singer Aaliyah: Age ain't nothing but a number.
As you advance in years, your body might not behave as it used to when you were twenty-three, but the one thing that time doesn't have control over is your soul... unless you let it.
I don't know about you, but I hope that as I continue to grow older in my body, I don't ever want to lose the childlike hope that still lives somewhere in my heart. I don't want to let go of my sense of wonder, my ability to play, and a mind that stays nimble, open, and can be changed for the better.
Some people give up on life long before it gives up on them. And then some keep getting younger and discovering new things about themselves and their world.
I want to be like that last group; I suspect we all do at some level.
Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said to his followers, "Unless you become like a little child, you will never understand what it means to be a part of God's kingdom here on earth."
May we strive every day to become younger as we grow older. May we hold on to faith, hope, wonder, joy, and love with all our might and, in so doing, become like children again.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.