For many, the autumn of life is upon them. As we grow older, our body weakens – our eyesight grows dim, our hearing fades, our legs and other body parts don’t function the way they did when we were younger. The good news is that as our body grows weak, our spirit grows stronger. Due to your bodily weakness, you depend on God more, and His strength is made visible in you. You talk to Him more then you used to. He listens and surrounds you with His love. Respond to His love with an openness to receive Him and the many gifts of the Spirit that He wants to bestow on you. Believe more strongly in God’s word. Cling to the teachings of Jesus. Let your spirit be nourished and grow stronger. You know for sure that today your relationship to God is deeper than it was 20 years ago.
Yes your body lacks the strength and the energy of youth, but you are wiser and your spirit has grown stronger. You know as never before that God has the words of eternal life and that He loves you just as you are.
Because you have had a rich, full life and years of experience, share your stories with your family, your children, grandchildren and the people of your community. Tell them about how you have had to wait for many things in your life. Tell your daughter about the nine months you waited for her to arrive as you prepared all the things needed for a newborn infant. It’s now Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas and likewise a time of waiting and preparation. You couldn’t rush your daughter’s birth to bring the waiting to an end anymore then the children can rush Advent in order for Christmas day to arrive sooner. Tell them about the hundreds of years that the Jewish people and the prophets waited for the promised Messiah. But it’s not only the Jewish people nor only during this Advent season that we wait. In our everyday life we wait in lines, for family news, for a special dream, for a new job or to win the lottery. Waiting is a pregnant and important time of preparation, but waiting does end. The Messiah did come. Be sure to tell them how you celebrated the birth of the God-man Jesus when you were young, and how it pains you to see Him banished from our schools, our government and public events. Fortunately He cannot be banned from our hearts and minds. Tell them how your love for Him has grown and filled you waking moments. Tell them that in spite of your wrinkles, that deep down you experience joy. Tell them how you are going to celebrate His birth into this world by preparing everything needed for a family feast. As you say Merry Christmas to each person, pour out His love which flows from you as never before. Thank Him for this wonderful world filled with fish, animals and the beauty of nature.
As a little self-help book reminds us, “Always see something new on the horizon. Harvest the fruits of your years. Ask God how you can be a blessing to others. Be still and find your centre where God waits for you. You can never grow too old to give and receive love. Remember that you are God’s creation, challenged by imperfection but with an invincible spirit.” John’s Gospel tells us, “It is the Spirit that gives life” – not the body!
Sister Andrea Dumont is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Roman Catholic religious order. She spent 14 years in Guatemala and since returning to Canada has lived in Grand Rapids, Easterville and Thompson. The main focus of her work in adult education, which includes training lay presiders for times when there is no priest available, organizing and instructing in the various ministries, sacramental preparation and RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).