"You are to rise in the presence of the elderly, honor the aged, and fear your God. I am the LORD." ~ Leviticus 19:32 (NKJV)
The wisdom of the ages…
Most often, this phrase seems to refer to the wisdom garnered by humanity over the course of human history.
I do believe there's another wisdom that could go by the same name to which it would behoove us to draw near.
There was a time when multiple generations lived together under the same roof. There was no stigma attached to living with one’s parents and grandparents until an individual chose to marry or had another reason for moving out. This tradition still exists in many cultures around the world. There, the family is a cohesive unit, sometimes even including great-grandchildren. I don’t know whether or not it was the cessation of such practice in our westernized, modern, “enlightened,” culture that caused it; but somewhere along the line, we diminished the value of our elders… both perceived and actual.
In many places and cultures around the world, elders are revered. As people age, they are considered wise; the community respects and honors them, rather than setting them aside or isolating them in all too often unfortunate conditions.
I happen to be very privileged to have known my great-grandmother, who lived to be almost 102. As you know, I speak to my nonagenarian grandmother anywhere from one to three times a day, and I wish I was geographically close enough to see her and spend quality face to face time with her far more often.
My family taught us to respect our elders and to honor them and their life experience, for that I will be forever grateful.
In the western world, I think we loose something, because no matter how much respect there may be, we’ve lost that extra step to veneration. Think of what we could learn if we would sit at the feet of those who’ve lived all of those years, compiled all of that life experience! How different might our lives be if we would truly take it all in and learn from their pool of wisdom?
I’ve long had a dream of someday being the old crone, the kind of seriously weathered woman that leaves children a bit in awe and very curious. However, I don’t think that's a common dream hereabouts. In a culture where we fear aging the way we do, and to the extent we do (call it what you will, but I believe when it comes down to it, it's fear plain and simple,) we’ve squandered a precious treasure, a resource for which there is no replacement.
Abraham, Isaac, and David were all old and full of days and years. And, I know the number of my days He will fulfill, whatever and however many they are... I simply pray I too get to be old and full of years.
So, what do we do about it?
Honestly, I don’t know. Endeavor to listen with ears and heart wide open to the aged? Sing Christmas carols in your local nursing home? Read to someone who has lost his or her ability to see? Sure. All of those things are good, and all of them will make a difference in a life or several lives.
But, how to return to veneration as the Native American, Indian, Greek, Chinese, and other cultures have maintained? That’s going to take more than a visit to a nursing home.
We could begin, I suppose, with being willing to have the conversation to hopefully shift the scope and attitude of things… being willing to age without shame… being willing to look beyond the weary weathered faces around us, see them, and seek their wisdom with a loving heart. Those are all a start.
But, how to change the way of our world at its core? I don’t know. Perhaps you do.
Father, I pray we would all reach for You as You would have us do. I pray we would know and hear Your voice. Thank You, for giving us the eyes to see and the ears to hear and the will to walk in Your way, always. Amen.
"You are to rise in the presence of the elderly, honor the aged, and fear your God. I am the LORD." ~ Leviticus 19:32 (BSB)
"In the same way, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble." ~ 1 Peter 5:5 (CSB)
"Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father... Treat older women as you would your mother... Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her... This is something that pleases God." ~ 1 Timothy 5:1-4 (NLT - excerpts)
May the Good Lord bless you and keep you, friends... always, in all ways. Amen.
Bonus song of praise... ♥
And, because I came across this video while I was looking for a song to share, here's a bonus to the bonus that really needs to be seen.