The thoughts below came by e-mail from a friend.
Credit given to a Father Victor Brown:
“A few days ago I was reading one of the works of our Holy Father Pope
Benedict XVI and came across words that seem so applicable to me at
my advancing season of life.
“The Pope is talking about our mature years when we find ourselves less
able to do as much as we used to do, and we are tempted to fret and be
sad because of our inability to "pull our own weight" as the saying goes.
I can vouch for the truth of this observation, especially when one may
go from a fully active life to one of retirement fairly quickly. This is what
the Pope says on the subject: "It is precisely the time of our apparent
uselessness that can be the highest form of human ripening." That simple
statement on the part of the Holy Father speaks volumes to me, and is
no doubt the result of his own experience of aging and the observation of
many of his relatives, friends, colleagues, and others who are forced by
their health or age or other circumstances to curtail much of their activity.
“We are constantly saying to one another, "How are you?" I am aware
that that question is simply a casual greeting in most cases, and the usual
response is, "Fine, thank you." We certainly don't want to become the
sort of people who, when you ask them "How are you?" they TELL you
at length! (This is sometimes referred to as “an organ recital.”)
“On the other hand, some of our relatives and friends are genuinely interested
in our health and well-being and know that our situation is declining. So
when they ask how we are, they deserve some information on the subject—
but not too much! I think I'll start taking my cue from the Pope and I'll say,
in response to their question, "I'm ripening, thank you!" It may sound a bit
comical and might start an interesting conversation. And I certainly hope that
it is true, that you and I are indeed ripening spiritually, emotionally, and in terms
of our personality and our mellowness. We don't want to become cranky,
self-centered or peevish in our mature years.
“If we were to choose some animal to symbolize gracious aging, I wouldn't
choose a porcupine or a rattlesnake, but rather a black
Labradoror a cocker
spaniel or a devoted Dachshund. There are few things more pleasant than for
a friendly dog to come up and nuzzle your hand as it hangs over the arm of a
chair, wanting to be petted or fondled. Is the dog doing anything useful at that
moment? No, but affection is far greater than mere utility, and the dog has ripened
into an affectionate relationship with its master or with human beings generally.
“Let's ripen, my dear friends; that’s why God gives us the days, months, and years
after our “seeming” usefulness is over.”