The beginning of a New Year can make us realise that we are going to be a year older!
We all get older – we simply can't avoid it! The experience of many as we get older can vary greatly. So, we have to take care in not using categories or stereotypes about people who are of a certain age. But altering stereotypes of certain ages is an uphill battle! It is said that old age is not a distinct developmental stage but rather features great diversity of experiences and situations.
One aspect as we age that needs to be dealt with is the ability to 'forgive'. In every age, we are to follow our Lord’s example in forgiving others.
In the Lord's prayer, we pray “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” On the cross and dealing with acute emotional and physical pain, Jesus cried out “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” We may not ever have to experience this level of forgiveness. But when we are even annoyed with the behaviour of others towards us, Jesus' example can lead us to seeing the transformative power of forgiveness.
One person has written: “I had some bad times growing up but through forgiveness God has given me a peace of mind.” This person found that she was helped to find forgiveness through going to church and being encouraged to trust in God which has transformed her. Being part of a faith community where the regular reminders of God's character occur Sunday by Sunday can help greatly. Knowing that forgiveness is available makes it possible for a new start, despite what has happened in the past.
As we grow older whether you are in your own home or in an aged care facility, storytelling has been a means of transforming the rhythms surrounding everyday life. Affirming that we are made in God's image helps to single out the importance of a person's life story. Being able to listen attentively to one another’s story is crucial.
As we age, the community to which we relate becomes more and more important. In conversation with one another, talking about your troubles tends to lessen the load. Simple activities that draw people together can be catalysts in drawing out individual needs. That is why a 'simple' cup of tea can assist in this process.
Our prayer can be like that of the Psalmist: “Do not cast me off in the time of old age”. But we can come with confidence before our creator and redeemer, because the Lord promises that “even when you turn grey I will carry you” (Isaiah 46:4). How great is our God who invites us to trust in him whatever age we may happen to be!
Canon Kevin Stone