Wisdom of Old Age

Sunday Morning Musings:  This week I celebrated yet another birthday (as did some of my friends), so I thank you for your birthday wishes.  However, getting older (I know it is just a number!) does have both positive and negative aspects.

On the negative side, there seem to be many more issues than positive ones. Officiating at funerals of people younger than me is not so uncommon.   I know that death is inevitable even though many people don’t want to accept such a fact.  None of us knows when our earthly time is up but we all like to think that death isn’t going to happen until we reach “old age”. Surprise!  Age is only one possibility.

But there are other negatives to getting older.  Health issues become much more prominent and it seems to take longer to recover.  Fortunately, living in a country that provides “universal” health care allows us to have procedures that would have been too costly for the average person to afford. Of course, as someone once said: “The opposite of living a long live is not the better option”.

On the positive side, being a senior citizen gets me a discount in many places.  For me, one of the best things about getting older is that hopefully I gain some wisdom along the way.  Notice that I am differentiating between wisdom and knowledge.  I hopefully gain both, but I really prefer wisdom. Wisdom is the food that nurtures my soul.

I am also wise enough that know that wisdom and advanced age don’t necessary coincide, but if one reflects on the life experiences one has, hopefully wisdom can be gleaned from them.  However, I sometimes think wisdom may just be an old wives’ tale (or old wise tale) and may or may not hold much truth at all.  I have told my grandchildren that they would catch pneumonia if they didn’t wear a coat.  The response I got was that pneumonia is a virus or bacteria which are not caused by not wearing a coat.  What are we teaching our children these days?

So how does wisdom feed my soul?  The answer for me lies in the searching that is required.  For many years I felt that I had to have all the answers and probably thought I had them.  I was also taught not to question so-called truths, like the Bible and the Church.  Wisdom has taught me that I should question them.  I cannot take the Bible literally, nor should I.   I cannot accept that the church is always right and to have a different thought or opinion automatically makes me wrong.  Wisdom tells me that there are things that will never be known; that we are good people who should be loved regardless of our actions; that if I think I have all the answers, I haven’t asked all the questions.

Wisdom may not be limited to old age, but if we think about all the things we have experienced we just may become wiser.

Living with Mystery

Sunday Morning Musings:  My apologies for missing posts for last couple of weeks.  I have been on holidays so decided that I would even take a break from musing.  Certainly I know that wasn’t easy because I muse a lot.  Perhaps I just took a break from typing!!!!

I have spent much more time in nature while on vacation.  I got to hike in the Rockies and swim in the Pacific as well as walk on the Pacific Rim Trail.  It is not difficult to know why some folks tell me that they feel closest to God when they are in nature.   Everywhere I turned I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder.  I suppose that for many of the “strange” sights like a room-sized boulder in the middle of a village, or tree trunks so large one could walk inside, or the amazing comings and goings and returning again of ocean tides, can be explained scientifically.  Yet even knowing the “reasons” I still experienced the mystery,

Last week I also got to watch a one-act play about Winnie Trainor and Tom Thomson written by Grant Nickalls (who acted along with Cydney Jones) in which the audience was still left with the mystery about their relationship and Tom’s untimely death.   To me, it was all about mystery.  It was all about the idea that there are some things that don’t have or need answers.  We need to be able to live with the mystery.

The same, of course, is true about faith.  Please note that I am not talking about belief.  Belief means giving assent to a set or system of a way of thinking.    For example, I believe that the Bible contains stories of relationship and how to be in relationship.  On the other hand, to have faith in some thing is to trust even the unknown.  I have faith that what I call “God” is not a being that intervenes in our lives or this world, but exists within and around each of us as love.

I know that for some this faith is not what we have been taught to believe about God.  Some still want to express their sense of God as a male figure, while others want to be more inclusive.   Personally, I will still use both masculine and feminine terms but know that for me, God is neither and yet both.  I am okay with this understanding.  It is not about a belief but about having the confidence that God is unknown and that God is not going to judge me for what I believe or don’t believe.

What is important to me is that my faith allows me to live feeling the love and support of God.  I can’t explain it.   I don’t need to explain it.  I choose to live within the love that is all around me. When I choose not to do love, I am living outside my sense of God, or a have the feeling that I have turned my back on what is God.  For me, God is a feeling, a wonderful feeling that is full of mystery and full of love.

From Tolerance to Inclusion

It has been an adventuresome week for me in so many ways.  As a grandfather, I got to attend my grandson’s grade 8 graduation.  As a citizen of Canada, I was intrigued by the celebrations of 150 years since Confederation. As a member of a proud community I watched and listened to local celebrations.  As one who still has work to perform I moved between the highs and lows of life itself.

There have been a few words that also have been quite prevalent this week.  One word that seemed quite positive at one time, yet now doesn’t hold the same for me is the word “tolerance”.  It used to be that tolerance was a good thing, but maybe not any more. It is no longer acceptable to just tolerate one another and our differences.  A better word I have heard used is that of “inclusiveness”.

A number of months ago I participated in an Inclusion Tour offered by our local Community Living Association.   The main purpose of this event and others like it was to show us that individuals with what have been called disabilities should not continue to be left out of society.  The Inclusion Tour reminded me that all people have something to offer.  They are to be more than tolerated; rather they need and want to be included.

Of course, the next question often asked is: included in what or with whom?  There has been much controversy over the 150 Celebrations in that for the most part the Indigenous people have not necessarily been included.  The concern is very legitimate.  As a first generation Canadian I realize the errors of “colonialism” and the need for change, but what change?  It begins with listening and more inclusiveness as a nation.

I was impressed with the words of Buffy Sainte-Marie when she spoke of creation not be longing to any of us, rather we are only caretakers. It would be a good start if we could all start to think along these lines and less of an “us against them” approach.

The same can be said for all of life itself.  In this world we are given a life but need to respect it in all forms.  Too often we take life itself for granted.  Sadly though, none of us knows when something may happen to bring about a major change.  When I was starting out in the work force I was quite sure that even my job was secure – not so much for the young and even not so young of today.  Yet the truth is that we don’t have job security.  In Canada, we have universal health care yet no one knows when we may be stricken with a life-altering disease or even death. But we don’t even want to think about that, let alone talk about it.

Let’s not just tolerate the fact that life is uncertain (and do more that eat dessert first).  Let’s include all aspects of life in our living.  When we do we can be certain that life is even more worth living.