aging · Spirituality

Getting Old

On a recent sunny day, I went to the drive-through carwash to clean the dust off my Prius. I pulled up to the gate and rolled down my window to put in my preference and pay. Touch screen to begin, said the instructions. I touched the screen, and nothing happened. So I touched it a little harder. Still nothing. Now a line of cars was behind me and I could feel their impatience. I started banging the screen, getting more and more frustrated. Finally, a nice young man came out from inside the office and in his most patient “have-to-be-polite-to-old-ladies” voice, explained to me that it was a touch screen. With one deft finger, he skimmed the screen, made my selection, took my money, and moved me along the line.

I felt about ninety. I wanted to call after him and tell him I was very adept at touch screens, that I use an iPad and laptop all the time. I even have an Apple Pencil and several blue tooth speakers and headphones. And, last month, I fixed the sound problem on our big screen TV using the remote!

Unfortunately, despite the young man’s good manners, I can only imagine what was said about me in the carwash office as I held up the line with my inability to get the touchscreen to work.

This is my birthday week and I have to accept that I am old in the eyes of some people. I don’t feel old except when I can’t get a touch screen to work or when I realize I’ve been out of college for forty years. Or when I have never even heard of the entertainer for the Superbowl Halftime Show.

I remember thinking when I hit forty that I would now be mature and wise and able to rise above the stresses of life. That didn’t happen. Then fifty rolled around and now I’m on the other side of sixty and I’m still trying to get my act together.

But I hope I’m making progress. I have spent my whole life getting to know myself and learning to love and accept that person. I’m getting closer to my spiritual core.

I’m reminded of the unfinished statues by Michelangelo that I saw when I spent a semester studying in Venice. To this day I remember the emotion I felt when I visited the Academia Gallery in Florence, where his famous Davide stands. But his unfinished works, known as Michelangelo’s Prisoners or Slaves, moved me the most. The figures appear to be straining to push free from the marble blocks that contain them,

Michelangelo’s Atlas Slave

The great artist had the rare talent of being able to look at a piece of marble and see the sculpture inside it. Once he had chosen the right stone, he saw his job as chipping away the excess marble to create his masterpiece. Simple, right?  The four unfinished statues at the Galleria give a remarkable insight into Michelangelo’s process. The men inside the marble seem to be fighting their way out, stuck forever in the limbo of never becoming their true forms.

These statues remind me of my spiritual growth. At times in my life, I’ve felt like I was pushing against rock in my effort to become the woman God wants me to be. But God keeps chipping away at the parts of me that prevent me from being my true self, the one He created. It is a slow process.

Paul talked about this process of spiritual growth as becoming “transformed into the likeness of Christ, one degree of glory to the next.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) Moses had to put a veil over his face when he was in God’s presence, but when we accept Christ, the veil falls away and we can look fully at Him. As we grow in understanding, we are able to get closer and closer to that glory, making us a reflection of Christ’s light. We inch along, one degree of glory at a time.

Becoming fully one with God will not happen until my time on earth is over, but I pray that I can keep pushing away the boulders of anger, unforgiveness, jealousy and fear that hold me back. Each stone that falls away puts me one step closer to the light.

Meantime, I will work on my touch screen technique for my next trip through the carwash.

All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

7 thoughts on “Getting Old

  1. I had to laugh at this…and I do understand the frustration of doing the same thing that someone else does and it works for them but not for you!
    And I did not realize, or technically ever know, that you spent a semester in Italy. How I would love to be able to spend that amount of time in that country. When you go as a tourist, you basically see a bit and then go on to see the next bit. Or you are only in, say Florence, for one day and certain museums are not open or that museum is not on the itinerary. Talk about patience. That’s apparently what this Lent (and perhaps last year’s too) is all about: patience and more patience for those who cannot see the value of a piece of cloth covering their nose and mouth. I saw a report that hospitalizations due to seasonal flu were less than 200 nationwide, compared to hundreds of thousands in previous years. Patience-I need to work on it.

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    1. Wake Forest was given a house right on the Grand Canal! I think they still take groups each semester. I was there spring semester 1980. You were probably having babies then. One of my dreams is to rent a house in France or Italy for a month or more and live there – go on short trips. Maybe I will do it one day! With airBnb, it is much easier to do something like that. Have you gotten your vaccine? Here in Ga, people 65 and older and their caregivers can get it, so I technically qualified since Keith is 65. I didn’t initially sign up when I made his appointment, but I went in with him and asked if they had any extra and they said they could call me if they had a cancellation and they did. We get our 2nd shot next week, if they have it. I feel better knowing we will have that protection, but life is still so unknown. Fortunately, adam and Jess have been working from home and have been very careful about going out, so I have been able to see them some. and our church is meeting, but very socially distanced.Thanks for reading!

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  2. I am feeling the ageism at work these days. We all have computer problems, but when I have them, it seems to be chalked up to being the old lady. Thanks for reminding me I am being transformed from glory unto glory, not the other way!! Miss your visits, Millicent! Love EVERY post on your blog!

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  3. Your post reminded me of something that is attributed to Michelangelo and I like to think it’s true. When asked how he knew when to stop chipping and carving the huge block of marble Michalangelo replied. “I stop when I get to the skin.” Genius. Take care. Robin McCoy

    On Sun, Feb 21, 2021 at 3:30 PM Under the Magnolia Tree wrote:

    > maflake posted: ” On a recent sunny day, I went to the drive-through > carwash to clean the dust off my Prius. I pulled up to the gate and rolled > down my window to put in my preference and pay. Touch screen to begin, said > the instructions. I touched the screen, and noth” >

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  4. I so understand your experience at the car wash. And I especially love your reference to Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures as a picture of how our spiritual growth takes place. I’m an art teacher and love those sculptures!

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    1. You probably know much more about Michelangelo than I do, but I was fascinated with him during my time in Italy. Good to hear from you!

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