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The gift of aging

The gift of aging

Woodgrain like that doesn’t happen overnight.

I have stopped my car in the middle of the road.  It’s a lonely, little-traversed, back-country lane, so for the ten seconds it takes to snap this photo, I’m safe.  And I’m less likely to have to explain myself than if I park and walk up to a stranger’s barn.

But I had to stop.  Just look that that beautiful wood!  It’s like a wise and weathered face, each wrinkle a testament to a life well-lived.

Later, having arrived and embarked on my hiking trail, I stop again.  Like before, it is to appreciate ancient wood, only this time, uncut.  I put my hands on this enormous tree and look up.  “Thank you, Father,” I say, “for things much older than myself.”

I’ve been thinking much about aging recently.  I’m reading Arthur Brooks’ best-seller, From Strength to Strength, which addresses how to make one’s later years meaningful.  He stresses that the key is to shift from a focus on achievement to one of sharing accumulated wisdom.  It’s celebrating what you’ve learned by sharing it with others.

Turning your gathering into giving.

It’s much like what I read this morning in Psalm 145:

One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts. (v. 4)

It is the responsibility – and Brooks would add, joy – of every older believer to pass on the encouragement of first-hand observations of God’s goodness in action to those who follow.

And as I walk in the woods, I notice the small examples of life being passed on.  In the carpet of brown leaves, the brilliant green moss stands out in vibrant contrast.  This little colony, growing on a stump, struck me by its variety of textures and shades – like an abstract weaving.

It’s the stump that gives life to this moss.  Facilitating and nurturing its growth.

The same could be said of this pretty grouping of shelf-fungus, looking all the world like “tree clams.”  I enjoy these images of older, more established organisms fueling the development of the younger.

It’s what we’re called to do.  To share how we have personally seen how the “Lord is good to all; slow to anger and rich in love.” (Ps. 145:8) To reinforce his faithfulness to those who are stepping out in faith in their own journey with him.

My life has been enriched by wisdom shared with me by older believers – through spoken and written testimonies of God’s goodness (including the great treasure-trove of hymns).

There is something quite beautiful in the weathered grain of a long life of trusting God.  Someone needs that experience today.

Lord, let us, like your works, tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might to those who walk behind us.

Reader: How are you passing on your experience in trusting God to the next generation?

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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