Ageing Gracefully

Ageing Gracefully

In the 34th chapter of John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrims Progress’, Christian and Hopeful, two of the main characters, encounter the river of death. Crossing the river is their last big challenge before entering the pearly gates of God’s city.

They step in the water. Hopeful finds his feet on solid ground but Christian isn’t so lucky. The water is deep and he starts sinking. Sorrow overwhelms him – he doesn’t think he will make it. However, Hopeful, won’t give up on him. He comes to his aid, trying to lift him up, and offer encouragement. At first it’s not working. But then Hopeful tells Christian to remember all God’s past goodness to him.

Finally, Christian’s faith recovers and his feet find solid ground. They walk safely through the remainder of the river. On the bank, they are met by ‘the shining ones’ who take them up the hill, to be welcomed at the pearly gates.

Most of us are not facing death imminently. But the truth is, we are all edging nearer to that reality. Covid-19 has been an uncomfortable reminder of this.

Outside of a global pandemic, it is easy to ignore the prospect of dying, to push it deep down somewhere, to be dealt with another day. However, AGEING is a little more difficult to ignore!

In my early twenties, two memorable experiences made me think: ‘I want to age gracefully’.

The first was when I was at University. To help pay my bills, I had a job working on a makeup counter in the House of Fraser. One day, a middle-aged lady came to my counter, asking for makeup advise.

She’d had a face-lift and wondered if we had any products that would cover the scars ‘without giving her that caked look’.

As I began to do her makeup, she looked wistfully at my face and said something like “I wish my lips were still that full” and warned me that one day I would lose my youthful looks. (No comments please!)

She was actually incredibly friendly and didn’t mean it in a nasty way at all. But I found it quite shocking. She was a very beautiful lady and I couldn’t help but think, “you don’t need all this”. Perhaps I should have said that. However, instead, I quietly helped her find the products she was after and we parted ways.

A couple of years later I met Halmony (a grandmother). She was my landlady and neighbour, when I lived in Seoul, South Korea. Halmony was very kind to me. She taught me Korean and showed me hospitality. We spent a lot of time together, during my 16 months in Seoul, and she was instrumental in my conversion to Christianity.

Halmony had beautiful, long, grey, hair. That might not sound unusual for a grandmother in the UK, but in the area I was living at the time, it was. Most men, and women, died their hair to hide any greys.

Halmony was quiet, kind and graceful, I remember thinking to myself “I want to age like that”.

But then I started ageing.

I’ve got lines on my forehead. I’m losing elasticity in my skin. As much as I don’t want to care, I can’t help but feel a bit sad. I feel empathy for the lady I met at my makeup counter, in a way that I just couldn’t in my early twenties.

It’s not just our appearance that changes either. As one comedian puts it:

“You see your friend. He’s got a cast on his ribs. You ask, did you get in a car accident? No, I just yawned too fast and I caught my body off guard. I forgot to stretch and stupidly, out of nowhere, just yawned.”

As we get older, our bodies just aren’t as agile or supple as when we are younger! It is much easier to pull muscles, etc. We may get arthritis, dementia, and other age-related illnesses also.

It is natural that ageing makes us feel sad – it is a sign that we are dying and we were not created to die.

God does not want us to die either. His offer to us is life “eternal” and “to the full” (John 10:10), through Jesus, who reversed the curse of sin when he died for us.

Jesus hasn’t just paid for us to have a ‘nip and tuck’, so that we can hold onto a memory of what our bodies once were. His gift is immortality and a new, perfect, body. To reach the other side of the river, we just need to trust him. That is how we will age gracefully.

Finally: Christian was only able to make it through that river with the help of his friend, Hopeful. Is there anyone who needs your encouragement today?

Theme Day Thursday

As so many enjoyed the diary of last weeks theme day, here is what we did this week. I have added instructions for some of the activities on the recipe and craft pages of this website in case you want to have a go at any of them. 

This week our theme was ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. 

We started preparing earlier in the week by ageing paper and drawing treasure maps.

We also made some coconut ice the day before, from this very well aged recipe book!

Then we kick started the day with costumes and face paint, recycling our swords from last weeks ninja theme.

After that we made some treasure by mixing coarse salt, PVA glue and food colouring.

Next we listened to some reggae and made Jamaican Beef Patties using this recipe.

After our tasty lunch we got out our books, drew maps and played some YouTube videos to learn about the history of the Caribbean, and the golden age of piracy. It is all tied up with colonialism, which made for a sobering lesson.

We focused particularly on Jamaica, as that is where the children’s Grandad is from. I love this rhyming book that we got second hand.

Throughout the day we had Caribbean themed snacks and drinks: pirate porridge, apple boats, fruit punch, and chocolate and banana milkshakes.

Just before bath time we made 2 simple boats. One powered by wind, the other with a paddle. We raced them in the bath tub, and of course the girls won!

For our evening meal we had a BBQ of jerk chicken and corn-on-the-cob with rice and peas. We marinated this beauty for nearly 24 hours. (Yes I may have chosen this theme mostly for the food, you can’t beat Caribbean flavours!) I’ve put up our recipe for rice and peas on the recipe page. Have a look by clicking here and scrolling down to R.

We ended the day with a collection of steel (and plastic) drums, and played along to calypso music!

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6 Replies to “Ageing Gracefully”

  1. Absolutely astounding! These skills need wider sharing …. Dear Rebecca – fabulous!

  2. This is amazing Becca! You are a wonderful mother! You’ve inspirede to start becoming more creative with my little girl xx

    1. Thanks Chantelle 😊 let me know what you get up to. We haven’t had a theme day for over a month now. I’m thinking ‘fungi’ for this Thursday 🤓🤦‍♀️ xx

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