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Rich in Years: Read an Excerpt
I've always enjoyed a good meal and a cold beer with my family and friends on the weekend. What could be more wonderful than breaking bread with others? As Jesus said, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them" (Matt. 18:20). Anything that leads to community adds richness to our lives.
Of course, building community takes time. But that's another thing I've learned in my old age: to stop rushing around from one appointment to the next, and instead, to take more time with my wife, my children, my grandchildren, and other children in the neighborhood. Time spent alone is also valuable. Contemplative silence outdoors appreciating God's creation is beneficial to soul and body. Sometimes just "being" is more important than "doing."
Alice von Hildebrand, a former philosophy professor in New York, is now in her nineties. She has found old age easier to accept because she has a reason for living.
When I was still teaching, I rode on the subway and looked at the faces: boredom, despair, sadness. This, in the richest country in the world!
But the moment that you relate to God—and thank him for your existence, for loving you, for being your savior—you can establish a most beautiful relationship with other people. You love and help one another. You realize the meaning of your life is not luxury and fun, but it is helping. Once you radiate joy, sooner or later people are going to say, "What's her secret?" And then gently, without preaching, without saying "I'm superior to you," you just share. After all, the meaning of the word "gospel" is "the happy message."
That's all we can do. Obviously there are moments of darkness and discouragement. There are moments when we lose sight of the beauty of the sky because there are clouds. But one very fine day you come out of it. We are made for joy. Don't expect Paradise on this earth. But there is meaning, and this meaning is the love of God.
All of us can find such meaning in our lives. When we do, we will also find strength and grace to accept the changes that come with age.
From Rich in Years: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Lifeby Johann Christoph Arnold.
© 2013 The Plough Publishing House