Monday, November 1, 2010

Old Men Can’t Jump

“Well, we must be getting home,” said Kanga. “Good-bye, Pooh.” And in three large jumps she was gone. Pooh looked after her as she went. “I wish I could jump like that,” he thought. “Some can and some can’t. That’s how it is.”

—Winnie the Pooh

I see young men and women doing extraordinary things that I cannot do. They can; I can’t. That’s how it is. It’s easy to feel useless when you’re old.

 It comforts me to know that our Lord understands these moods; He was of this world. I don’t know how one who lived only thirty-two years can feel the dismay and disgrace of the elderly, but I take it as truth that He does. He lived all possible lives in the life that he lived and thus He knows it all: “how moons and hearts and seasons rise and fall.”

And then I gave myself another idea: We old folks may not be able to “jump,” but we can love and we can pray. These are the traditional works of the aged.

Love is the very best gift we can give to God and others. It is no small matter for love is the means by which we fulfill our whole duty to God and our neighbor. Love for one person may seem to be a very small action, but it is, in fact, “The Greatest Thing In The World.”[1]

And we can pray. John sees the prayers of the saints ascending before God and an angel hurling them back to the earth: “And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”[2] We raise our reedy, time–worn voices in prayer and God shakes everything that can be shaken—a return that George Herbert termed, “reversed thunder.” Our prayers may be immature and incoherent, but there is no greater force in the universe!

Love and prayer—the mighty works of the aged, indeed, the mightiest works at any age! It seems then, that old folks may not be so useless after all!


[1] Henry Drummond’s phrase. Cf., 1 Corinthians 13:13
[2] Revelation 8:4,5

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