Ecclesiastes 3: 1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance…
In the work I have been doing among the elder population I’ve often heard folks speak of the challenges of growing old, sometimes saying “Don’t get old!” It seems to me we forget as we age, both the joys and frustrations that came with earlier times in our lives – no matter what stage we’re in at the moment. The truth is, I think, that each stage of life comes with both blessing and struggle:
* As infants and toddlers we are wholly dependent on others and struggle to learn how to communicate our needs and desires; it can be frustrating. On the other hand, we get to play, eat, and sleep a lot!
* As children we grow in independence and discovery about ourselves and our world. We learn to socialize and make friends, and learn too, that not everyone is going to like us.
* In adolescence we find ourselves caught between the child who loves to be snuggled and the teenager with active hormones and a strong need to assert ourselves and our independence. Relationships are built, and hearts sometimes break as well.
* As young adults many enter into committed relationships; we assume financial responsibilities. There are often rough spots mixed in with the good times; sometimes even failure results.
* In middle age we look back with satisfaction as children move out into their own lives; we take pleasure in our careers and accomplishments. We begin to review where we’ve been and give thought to life’s meaning. At the same time we are often called on to care for failing parents.
* In our older age while our independence may be curtailed and visits to the doctor increased, we discover discretionary time and give thought to our legacy – to all that made us who we have become. We witness the passing of dear ones, and celebrate the love that was shared.
We witness these same pushes and pulls in nature, in the changing of seasons of growth, seeding, shedding and then seeming death under a hardened earth – but we know there is always something more. God calls us to embrace life – every season, every bit of it. Ralph Waldo Emerson says it so much better:
The roses under my window make no
reference to former roses or to better ones;
they are for what they are; they exist with
God today. There is no time to them. There
is simply the rose; it is perfect in every
moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud
has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown
flower there is no more; in the leafless root
there is no less. Its nature is satisfied and it
satisfies nature in all moments alike.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson