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Some Questions About Age

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Have you ever noticed a widespread interest in age? Why is it that nearly every form to be filled out asks for one's age? A logical deduction is that age categories are seen to identify a person's characteristics.

But each human being is unique, regardless of how many times he or she has seen the earth circle the sun. Have you noticed that as time goes by, people often say they feel quite the same in mind and spirit as when they were sixteen?

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Have you ever considered that aging might very well have more to do with custom and education than with time-than with the movement of the planets and stars? We've even been told that all the cells in one's body are replaced within a relatively short period of time, and that theoretically we need not deteriorate.

Here's a question I find particularly interesting: What if everyone ceased at this moment to regard age in any way whatsoever? What if there were no records of birth dates, no associations made with the passage of time, no limitations attached to anyone because of the number of years he or she had lived on earth? It just might release us from the typical adversities and indignities now connected with advancing years.

The woman who discovered a Science in the teaching of Christ Jesus wrote in the Christian Science textbook: "Never record ages. . . . Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. . . .

"Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof. Life and goodness are immortal. Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight" (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 246). This passage refers to Life, with a capital L, as synonymous with God.

Much as we might wish to perpetuate the bloom of youth, is there any reason why it should be the standard of beauty? Many of us have probably known someone of advanced years who expressed great richness of spirit, special joy, love, wisdom, or serenity; someone in whose presence we saw a beauty that exceeded that usually associated with youth.

Living a large number of years need not be cause for celebration, embarrassment, or even acknowledgment, even if it seems nothing captures congratulations so much as birthdays do. A long human life is generally thought to be a blessing-so long as it is accompanied by health and well-being. But with many persons age becomes a subject either of pride, of shame, or of dread-pride when health and well-being defy our years, and shame when the opposite seems true. Many dread the thought of growing old and the problems that often appear to accompany old age.

But later in Science and Health we read, "The belief of the eternity of matter contradicts the demonstration of life as Spirit, and leads to the conclusion that if man is material, he originated in matter and must return to dust,-logic which would prove his annihilation" (p. 278). The one true Life, which is God, is actually our only Life. As children of God, we have never been in or of matter, but ever in and of Spirit. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (I Corinthians 2:11).

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Are you proud of your age? Why? Are you ashamed of it? Why? Recognition that we have ageless being, rather than dependence on youth or well-maintained old age, is the ideal that alone gives satisfaction and joy. When humankind realizes the irrelevance of age, it may eventually be thought unnecessary for us to take account of it at all, and we may see the limitations attached to age fade away.

A friend once told me of someone whose long life of service and love to others was remarkable. When asked how old he was, this man replied, as I recall, "My friend, that is none of my business!" When we can say the same thing, we will then be understanding more of the words of the Psalmist, "With long life will I [God] satisfy him, and shew him my salvation" (Psalms 91:16).

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