I'm not exactly elderly - as a matter of fact, I keep waiting to feel as wise and mature as I thought I would be by now - but I suspect there is still plenty in this for all of us, no matter what our age. So let me share a 17th Century Nun’s Prayer.
Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessing cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a Saint – some of them are so hard to live with – but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
(I might add that a sour young person is not much better. Or a middle-aged one. But never mind.)
My sister took a photo on her recent trip to the Holy Land. This elderly lady clearly has had a hard life, as she was begging at a mosque, but her smile is beautiful, as is she. When I am old, I would love to have that kind of smile that lights up a space, no matter how things are going. I've seen people like that here in Haiti. Maybe God will work on me until I am like that, too.
|beautiful smile on an elderly woman|
photo by L. Delaney