I’m not going to tell them that I’m watching them, because frankly, that sounds a little creepy. But I am. I’m paying very close attention to those who’ve gone before me.
Not everyone ages well, but those members of the oldest generations who have matured with the grace of God have a deep well of wisdom—a natural resource that cannot be replaced. I want to drink from it, to be nourished by their stories. How did they get where they are? I want to hear their fantastical tales of a different day and way of life: talk of working the cotton and tobacco fields on the family farm, playing outside all day until it was time for a home-cooked supper around the table, where they were served vegetables cooked with fatback and buttermilk biscuits made by hand—items that would surely wreak havoc on my modern, gluten-intolerant and pork-allergic body.
I want to know what riches have been lost, so I can search for them and store them up as treasures. In their time, calloused fingers were a right of passage and hard work was something to be proud of—not avoided. And yet there was down time, and no one rushed to fill it. There were hours to talk, listen, and rest. I see them look at the world today and say, “Slow down. Enjoy what you have. Be content to be in the presence of those you love.”
Many of them have good habits that have served them well. They still write in the margins of their physical, real-world Bibles in beautiful, sweeping script. Even simple things, like how they structure their days or clean their houses are interesting to me. I want their recipes. And I try to absorb a bit of their good character into my life. With families grown, they often have time to give, but I don't know how to ask for it. So I am a beggar, gleaning for fruit from the edges of their lives.
In return, I wish I could relieve their daily aches and pains, or the heartbreak of a loved one who’s left them behind. The situations can be quite uncomfortable at times, for who knows how to tell someone they can’t drive anymore? Or that they’ve got a terminal illness?
I don’t know, so I pray. I pray I listen and learn. I pray I help in the ways I can. And I pray that I, too, age well in the spirit and knowledge of God.
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