Lately, as the end of the school year approaches, I have been urging my students, particularly the older ones, to finish the year well. “Give it all you have got!” “Do your best.” “Show your mettle.”
Then I reflected that I should be directing this message to myself as well. I am getting to an age when, traditionally, people retired. According to some European countries I am well past that age. They would have pensioned me off some time ago! But, I too, need to finish well. There are are times when I remember saying in the past, “There is no retirement in the Kingdom of God.” The time has come where I need to believe that for myself!
In recent year years I have heard a negative inner voice urge me to quit, stand back, take it easy and to pass the buck. “It is all to much.” Excuses wheedle their way in. It is the arthritis or the stamina or whatever excuse seems “usable” at the time. This surprises me because it goes against everything I have ever believed in.
It doesn’t help that we live in a culture that idolises youth and appearance. There is a, not too subtle, hint in western society that if you are over 50 or 60 you “over the hill.” Yet this gives us the very reason to “finish well”. We live in a society that needs wisdom, experience and stability. Our world needs firm but humble voices that hearken to values, beliefs and standards that deserve to be remembered and retained. All the more reason for older people not to “pull their heads in” but to speak with care and compassion into the modern world.
To put it simply, we need the passion, verve and energy of the young but also the wisdom, experience and stories of those who are older. Isn’t that one of the remarkable attributes that make us human?