Summer and fall is a wonderful time of harvest. Apple season came as sweet corn season wound down. Some vegetables, like beans, carrots, cucumbers, and Swiss chard seem to do well throughout the summer and into the first weeks of fall. Other crops are short-lived: strawberries, cherries, blue-berries, and our own lettuce. Every year I look forward to real field ripened tomatoes which don’t become available here until late July. But the seasons quickly pass.
The wise author of Ecclesiastes tells us that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to weep and a time to laugh”(Eccl. 3:1,2,4).
This is certainly true of the seasons of the year. It’s also true of the seasons of life: childhood, youth, marriage, family, career, retirement. There is a time for leisure and fun. But a time for aches and pains, for wrinkles and balding, for sleepless nights? It’s called aging. No matter what creams and treatments we use, we can’t do more than disguise it. Oh, sure, the good health care we enjoy in the west and the nutritious foods we eat have contributed to putting it off a little longer. But aging is inevitable.
And yet aging is hard to accept. I look with nostalgia and a little envy at the energy of younger people; those who can play tennis with verve, hike all day, and climb mountains. Right on, I say. Enjoy it as long as you can. I used to walk fast, hike through dense bush and climb steep hills without pausing for breath. Now I have a replacement knee and a miscellany of other conditions—some rather benign, some more serious.
There are always exceptional people who laugh in the face of aging. My jaw drops open when I watch some ninety-year old run a marathon. Along with everyone, I celebrate his or her achievement. But when a whole gamut of gurus imply that we could all share his health if only we subscribed to a certain regimen of supplements or exercise, I shake my head. Oh, is that so? Take this vitamin or that? Eat more kale? Can we really neutralize the effects of aging? Are we all nothing but the product of our lifestyle? Are there no differences between us? Can we really escape the inevitability of our DNA? Of course, the gurus are making lots of money pretending we can.
Sorry, I’m a skeptic. Now, I believe in eating nutritious natural foods including lots of fresh vegetables and fruit along with exercising as much as possible. I believe in postponing the inevitable as much as any. But! And this is a big but. There is also a time to accept the reality of our fragile humanity. The quicker we accept actuality, the happier we will be.
Why? Because we are fallen creatures, along with everything else in creation, creatures who have inherited decay and deterioration as a result of the space-time fall from innocence. With all creation we groan as we wait for Christ to return to remake our fallen world. “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us….the creation was subjected to frustration…in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God…we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption our bodies”(Romans 8:18, 20, 21, 23).
So, instead of grinding our teeth in the face of the inevitable, let us lift up our eyes as we look into a future that is as bright as the promises of God—a future in which our body will be transformed like Christ’s body, free from pain and aging. And until that day, let’s accept the season we’re in.