MANY people would say it is a matter of the mind, as in
mind over matter, or as in a matter of psychologising oneself. In a
sense, or at least partially, what they say is correct. But there’s a
lot more that is involved in aging gracefully.
The more precise answer to how we can age gracefully, I
think, is to take care of our soul, of our spiritual life, of our
relationship with God and others. Aging gracefully is a matter of
being in love with the love of God who is the only source of true
It is this love that makes us young always. It is this
love that enables us to age gracefully. It is this love that can defy
the ravages of time, that can make us enter into eternity, into the
forever. No wrinkles, no physical, emotional or mental deterioration
can overcome the rejuvenating power of this love. It is this love that
makes everything new.
Remember Christ saying: “The Spirit gives life. The flesh
counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of
the Spirit and life.” (Jn 6,63) It would be good if we often meditate
on these words and be guided by them, for in them do we have the
secret to aging gracefully.
It’s amazing that many people give more attention to their
bodily and worldly condition than to their spiritual status. The
former can only have a transitory or at best an instrumental
character. The latter is what can make us young and vibrant always,
which is what aging gracefully is all about.
No amount of cosmetics and make-overs can constitute the
ideal of aging gracefully. No, not even the Zumbas and other physical
exercises, or any medical and surgical intervention. At best, they can
give a temporary appearance of youthfulness. But sooner or later,
these cannot prevent the deterioration and loss of vitality. They can
never replace what the spirit can do for us.
I remember St. John Paul in his dying days. Physically, he
was already quite a wreck. He was bent, his speech was slurred,
tremors were in his hands, saliva dripped uncontrollably from his
lips. But his mind was alert and keen till his last breath which he
made with such calmness and serenity.
That is the classic example of aging and dying gracefully,
a reflection of how Christ himself met his death that led to his
resurrection! This kind of aging and dying welcomes old age and death
itself without fear and hesitation, convinced of where real life and
eternal youthfulness lie.
When we take care of our spiritual life, hitching it with
the Spirit of God himself, then we can enjoy all the gifts and fruits
of the Holy Spirit. Imagine a person who, in his old age, possesses
true wisdom, knowledge, etc. It’s difficult to imagine him other than
being youthful, vibrant, confident, cheerful, full of love, kindness,
patience, meekness, etc.
One psalm can somehow describe the secret to aging
gracefully and keeping the spirit youthful. “I (a young person) am
even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your (God’s) commandments.”
There we have it!