I realize, of course, that I’m not really a year older today than I was yesterday…just a few hours, in fact. Yet somehow, whenever you cross into a new decade of your life, it seems a little weightier. Especially when that passage takes you from your fifties into your sixties.
Oh, the truth is, I never was all that keen on being fifty either, which may account for why I generally tried to tell folks that I was only forty-nineteen for the last twelve months. But “sixty” sounds so much like my grandfather, which, of course, now I am as well. The problem is I still feel like I’m thirty-five, despite the frequent Defcon 1 alerts which my body keeps trying to send me.
In the end, however, the truth is that our days– however long or short–are always in the Lord’s hands and so we can trust Him with them. And there are countless examples of those who have somehow managed to make a difference despite the impediment of no longer being “young and cool.”
At the age of sixty, the writer George Bernard Shaw finished the play that many regard as his masterpiece, “Heartbreak House.” Likewise, the Italian sculptor, painter, and architect Gianni Lorenzo Bernini didn’t even start designing churches until he reached his sixtieth year.
At 61, physician, author and running enthusiast George Sheehan ran his fastest Boston marathon ever, drawing his inspiration from an early church father Ireneus who once wrote that “The glory of God is man fully functioning.”
At 62, J.R.R. Tolkien published the first volume of his famed trilogy, Lord of the Rings and at 63, Jonathan Swift wrote A Modest Proposal, possibly the best satire ever composed in the English language.
And skipping even further ahead, Ronald Wilson Reagan became the oldest person ever sworn in as President of the United States when he was 69 (though who knows what Hillary may do), the same age at which Werner Berger became the oldest North American to scale the highest peaks on each of the world’s seven continents, just after he proposed to his girlfriend, that is.
In short, as George Sheehan observed, “Man at any age is still the marvel of the universe.” Maybe the psalmist was right in his prayer thus: “Lord, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90.12)
And just in case you can’t do the math, that would make this day number 21,915 for me…and counting.