Wednesday, March 9, 2016


A hot button issue these days is the condition of our nation's infrastructure—among the hazards are antiquated plumbing lines, unsafe previous century electrical wiring, falling bridges, potholed highways, and rusty underground waterlines which spew dangerous lead into drinking water.

Listen to a typical conversation around the lunch table in a restaurant. Characters (no pun intended!) are miscellaneous calendar seniors qualified by age to join AARP – (Actually, they've set the age limit pretty low to identify membership, which scares away some of the younger folks from joining. They are still in denial and would be embarrassed to take advantage of senior discounts. So...let them pay full price!)

The chatter to that point had been about how many doctor appointments per week we all had on average and how many different “-ologists” we consult. We compete for who has found the pharmacy with the shortest waiting line for prescriptions, whose doctor is most user-friendly (or not!), which imaging center has the best MRI, who has most recently had a pacemaker installed, and who has the latest CPAP machine.

Overheard: “It seems that as soon as I turned (pick any age!) everything about me started to fall apart!”

Possibly true, but our crumbling bodily infrastructure didn't happen overnight and it's not something person-specific to you or to me. Nor rare. In fact, our gradual, delapidating, deteriorating, mortal “earth suit” (human body) is just following its natural disordered track since the Fall of man. What is happening to all of us from the time we were young is “common to man” (and woman too, of course.) Did you realize that some of our major, ordinary, human infrastructure diminishments are vividly described in the Bible, in the Old Testament? There is nothing new under the sun, I guess. Aging and its growing limitations happened to Adam, Abraham, Daniel, Obadiah, Luke, Paul, and everyone else all over the planet throughout history. Try reading what follows:

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets. Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)

You didn't understand all of that poetic language? What does that have to do with our bodily decline and aging condition? The skillful author, called The Preacher, probably King Solomon, used analogies, similies, and metaphors. A little research into biblical commentaries and cultural history sheds light and brings us some understanding. I'll do the research and you can do the search in the above Scripture passage. Okay?

Evil the sense of declining ability as one ages
No pleasure...of a sensual kind
Out of the windows...eyes, before sight is impaired
Cloudy eyesight...cataracts
Keepers or guards...hands and arms, now they have tremors
Strong men...feet or knees, our supporting pillars begin to give way
Grinders...molar teeth, cease to chew because they are few
Doors...lips and mouth kept shut so you can hardly hear your chewing
Song of a bird...the least noise wakes one up
Crowing of a cock...sleepless nights, can't wait for dawn
Daughters of music...voice and ear, organs that produce music, grow deaf and singing voice gets raspy
High places...the elderly fear heights, find it difficult to climb stairs
Even on a level way...fear of falling from poor balance
Almond blossom in grows white in the winter of life
Like grasshoppers...even little things become a burden
Desire for food appetite, no motivation
Longing for everlasting Home...detachment from this world
Dust...out of which God created man
Spirit leaves...returns to God, is immortal, survives the body
Silver cord...spinal cord attached to brain
(In ancient days a lamp of frail material but gilded over, customarily hung from house roof by a cord of interwoven silk and silver; beautiful as it is, eventually it crashes down and is broken)
Fountain...a cistern, spring, or well from which water was drawn by a pitcher let down by a rope wound around a wheel. Life ceases when the pitcher and wheel are broken, when vital energies are gone.
Another commentary interprets the fountain as the right ventricle of the heart, the cistern as the left, the pitcher as the veins, the wheel as the aorta. Circulation of blood which sustains life ceases.

Get it now? One commentary offers: “Aging is inescapable. Life seems futile, vane, empty, meaningless unless you remember your Creator from your youth, not waiting to remember Him until all you have left are the dregs of life. On the contrary, a good old age is not a vanity or an impossibility but a blessing with which God satisfies the godly. God expects us to 'bear fruit in old age.' (Psalm 92:12-15) Moreover, our Everlasting Home awaits us!”

Saint Paul takes it a level higher: “ Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, [our mortal infrastructure is crumbling] yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Despite our mortal decline, we are on the Upward Way in Christ!

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