The ‘Conscious Aging’ group, begun a few months ago, explores and discusses issues with regard to ‘getting older’. We meet once a month for 90 minutes, enjoying one another’s company and sharing thoughts, experiences, stories related to topics to do with aging.
This month (January) we meet to consider the topic of ‘loneliness’, an experience for many of us as we get older. Here is an excerpt from a book entitled, “From Age-ing to Sage-ing by Zalman Schacter Shalomi”. Shalomi provides a framework of looking at our lives in increments of 7 years, each set of 7 years represented by one calendar month. Here are some of his thoughts from the December years. (He was in his late 80s when he wrote this)
“Sometimes when I contemplate the beauty of the peach trees in my backyard, a Mozart sonata, or the orange-red hues of a sunset, I wonder, “Is this the last time I’ll experience such beauty? Will I be around next year to enjoy this again?” I ask this question not with morbidity, but with the poignant awareness that comes from knowing in my bones that everything --- including my physical body – is transitory. At such times, I take solace in the biblical directive to “Lift up your hearts to the Lord,” because this consciousness helps transform involutional melancholia into an opening to the Spirit. In this regard I once heard an Anglican bishop respond to the question, ‘What’s your prayer life like these days?’ He answered, ‘It’s not verbal prayer anymore. I’ve discovered that the best prayer is to sit back and let God love me.’ His startingly simple answer brought tears to my eyes because it confirms what I’ve learned in the December work: If I slow down enough and let God love me, I often can overcome the fog of depression...” (p. 291).
Shalomi’s comments are valid for all of us, as people of faith, at any age, it seems to me. I think that being an active part of a faith community and developing a close relationship with God are certainly powerful ways to lessen, or nearly eliminate, our sense of loneliness. I pray this for all of you in your journey of faith.