Planting the Kernel
READ ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUALITY IN AGING
The aging process, our journey and experiences while moving into and through the many different phases of later life has an effect on our life expectancy, our strength, our health, our emotions, and our spiritual life. Too often we encounter these experiences as roadblocks or detours rather than treating the process of aging as an opportunity for inner transformation. Our early and middle adult years do not adequately prepare us for the new role of being an older adult.
Shifting out of the role we are groomed for (work, family, etc.) and into the unfamiliar role of retiree and then healthy aging or elderly person can be a challenging transition. This may, at times, produce feelings of apprehension and concern in the ongoing adventure of living a full and complete life. For many, the focus on production and accomplishments held throughout young adulthood and middle age gives way in later years to a concentration on the interior life, and it places the emphasis on making spiritual connections grow.
Spiritual experiences are those events in life and moments in relationships that attune us to that vital or animating force within and which give greater meaning and depth to our day-to-day living. Research shows that people with an active involvement in church or spiritual community live, on average, seven years longer than those who don’t. As the increasing population of older adults continues, I wonder why we are not increasing the role of our elders in our communities, churches, denominations, and society? These relationships should be encouraged as an opportunity to enrich and give meaning to the lives of our aging citizens who have a wealth of wisdom and life experience to contribute and pass forward.
For many, spirituality is key to a vital old age. Staying centered in our faith as everything is changing through advancing age, chronic illness, or deteriorating health makes accepting these changes a little easier. Having this faith – trust without reservation – makes it easier to live with the unknown and face the ups and downs of life as we are aging. The process of aging at every life stage brings about changes in one’s spiritual life.
Change is inevitable, continuous, and unavoidable. Everything changes. We may not be in control of situations around us, but we are in control of our reaction towards them. A spiritual perspective on aging is not just for personal transformation; it is a medicine for longevity and health.
Spirituality is difficult to define and describe. It is a concept that is highly personal, often private, and hard to put into words. For most, spirituality is an inward experience. Our spiritual practices (meditating, walking a prayer circle, making a pilgrimage, taking communion, singing with a choir, going to a retreat, saying daily prayers, etc.) are just some examples undertaken by many of us in our daily lives. What they have in common is that they assimilate different aspects of our experiences while connecting us with others who share similar beliefs and seek out these experiences.
Our spiritual practices offer us a sacred time; a time we set apart from the everyday rush of our lives on a daily or weekly basis. Spiritual and religious practices have their own inherent value and are sufficient as ends unto them and can contribute positively to living healthier, happier lives.
We should be able to enjoy our spirituality and aging; it is our just reward, which comes from gaining wisdom, insight, and experiences on the aging journey. Spirituality doesn’t stop the aging process but it will provide hope, and hope will strengthen your spirit and your faith. It will help us spiritually to cope with whatever may come our way.
Feeding the Soil
LISTEN TO THE BEAUTIFUL AFFIRMATION OF THE SONG “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”
Our organist, Pat Rozeboom, and her mother, Diana Dykstra, did an organ and piano piece of this beloved song on confidence in the enduring presence of the risen Christ. We will be singing the hymn together as a congregation on Sunday, May 12.
In November, 1873, Horatio Spafford sent his wife and four daughters on the French ship Ville du Havre from their home in Chicago to a vacation in France, planning to set out a few days later himself. Somewhere in the Atlantic, the Ville du Havrecollided with a British ship coming the other way, and sank in just 12 minutes. Of his family, only Spafford’s wife survived. Spafford took the next boat over, and as he passed the spot where the ship went down, began to write, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll,” and continued until he had the text, “It is well with my soul.” His good friend, Philip Bliss, composed the tune for his words, naming it after the ship, VILLE DU HAVRE. In this hymn, Spafford has given all of us words of comfort and assurance in times of physical and spiritual crisis, paraphrasing those familiar words of Julian of Norwich: “And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Perhaps what is most startling about this text is the first line: “When peace like a river attendeth my way.” What does that mean, “peace like a river?” Lisa McKay addresses the question beautifully when she says, “I used to think of peace primarily as a stillness – a pause, a silence, a clarity – but that sort of peace is not the peace of rivers. There is a majestic, hushed sort of calm to rivers, but they are not silent and they are certainly not still – even the most placid of rivers is going somewhere…I’ve stopped expecting peace to look like the pristine silence that follows a midnight snowfall. I’m coming to appreciate a different sort of peace instead – a peace that pushes forward, rich with mud, swelling and splashing and alive with the music of water meeting rock.” (McKay, “Peace Like a River,” rachelheldevans.com)
Enjoy this version of the song, presented by the Dordt College Choir, Pat and Curt Rozeboom’s alma mater. (Pat says that she can see one of her cousins in the back row.)
HEAR THE WHOLE STORY OF SACRIFICE AND RESURRECTION IN THIS POEM
Easter Poem, by Christy Brink, let’s us reflect on the whole story of Jesus’ suffering and brings us to his joyous Resurrection. It ends with the words that invite us to reflect on our lives.
Listen to Christy read the poem here.
What has been the gift to you of being set free? What will you do with the freedom you have in Jesus in the years that are before you.