Faces on Faith: What about age?
I happened to pick up a book at the Sanibel Library’s “Bag of Books for $1” sale. Author Betty Friedan was well-known to me from her best selling book “The Feminine Mystique,” so I was intrigued with the title “The Fountain of Age” and determined to read her perspective on aging.
Horrified at the occasion of her 60th birthday and all the grim statistics that accompanied this age, Friedan became depressed, assuming her active physical and intellectual life was basically over. But, in her tome she describes her decision to read and review studies done by gerontologists on the subject. Digging deeper with her research she discovered many of the conclusions about the inevitability of decrepitude assumed to accompany aging, were based on hospitalized populations rather than the majority of seniors. She states: “Lately gerontologists have begun to puzzle over the fact that some people don’t show universal deterioration.”
She quotes the Duke Longitudinal Studies, which provided evidence that “activity in society of some complexity using cognitive ability and involving choice is crucial to longevity and vital aging.” Harvard Professor Ellen Langer suggests that “the physical aging process need not operate like a force of gravity, inevitably dragging the person downward toward the end of life. In fact, she goes on, “A mindful mind can continually create expanded possibilities, which influence the state of the body.”
Depak Chopra, author of “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind” adds to the discussion when he says: “We are not victims of aging, sickness, and death. All of us are in bondage to the disorder we create by seeing ourselves as separate and isolated.” He goes on: “Our whole goal is to establish an intimate relationship with self as Spirit.”
The book of Job in the King James Version of the Bible promises us: “If thou prepare thine heart and stretch out thine hands toward Him, then shalt thou lift up they face without spot; and thine age shall be clearer than the noonday. Thou shalt shine forth. Thou shalt be as the morning.”
Christian Science makes a strong case for resisting age beliefs. In the textbook, “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, she argues: “The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age. We are all sculptors working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it? The world is holding it before your gaze continually. To remedy this we must turn our gaze in the right direction and then walk that way. Men and women of riper years and larger lessons ought to ripen into health and immortality, instead of lapsing into darkness or gloom. Immortal Mind feeds the body with supernal freshness and fairness, supplying it with beautiful images of thought.
So we all have a choice to embrace some of these ideals and begin demonstrating the “Fountain of Age.”
-June Sieber, Sanibel Christian Science Church