On the eve of her 95th birthday, Cherry Ray remarked to me,
“People talk about our age as the golden age. What’s so golden about it when you have so many aches and pains and illness!”
Our ‘world’ programmes us to believe that the golden years are the youthful years. Those years when we are energetic, busy, feeling indispensable, healthy, and cosmetically beautiful. Those years are perceived as such because, on the surface, life seems attractive, appealing, and adventurous.
For this reason, social media is replete with images of muscular sculptured bodies, rich and famous, and looking like “barbie”dolls. Suffering, illness, poverty, and simplicity occupy the ground floor, not the penthouse of social media.
Christians have even been brainwashed to rely, not on God’s grace, but on the self and the ability of the self to be self-sufficient. So, we Christians feel good only when we are on the escalator of life – running up and down doing ‘good’ things for people. When we are unable to ‘do’ things for people we feel unworthwhile – the golden age is over.
In recent times, I observed my parents, age 87 and 85, quietly and calmly sitting in each other’s presence, barely exchanging words. The golden age has de-programmed them, and now they believe and live out “quality presence”.
The golden years/age are/is not about the exterior, but the interior, the interior heart and mind that overflow with wisdom lessons. The physical body may be riddled with aches and pains. The mental state may be unstable, but the heart is rich.
Hence, when Cherry was finished being “present” to me, she said, “Good Night, see you tomorrow”, referring to the Mass on her birthday. I jokingly responded, “Are you sure you will be seeing me tomorrow?” She quibbled, “Unless you want to have a fight.”
That’s a golden age response!