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