Walking Our Faith: It takes a lifetime to enrich one’s faith (column)
Walking Our Faith
I covered the table with linen the color of the ocean visible beyond the wide swath of beach outside our window. With a nod to the beach, I scattered seashells down the center of the table, adding little white tea lights which caused the crystal wine glasses to twinkle.
It was an intimate gathering of family and friends, eight of us who came together to celebrate the magnificent achievement of my mother reaching her 90th year. I made a simple dinner of roast salmon, vegetable kebabs, a salad of strawberries and arugula, and Key lime pie for dessert. The real star of the evening was my mother, Adeline.
Mom and I have spent the week together at a friend’s place on the beach. Over the course of seven days I’ve had an opportunity to observe Mom and to think about how our lives change and how our walk of faith evolves with age.
Mom shares her faith freely. The young couple she met upstairs have come down more than once, to listen to her talk about her love of God, to share a Psalm, and hear her talk about her life. They call her ‘grandma’. But I’ve also noticed how different mom’s personal relationship with God is than mine.
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When we think of aging, we often think in terms of diminishing abilities. We can’t run as far or ski as fast, as in decades past.
What I discovered, however, is there are areas in life where age creates rewards not found in youth.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (Proverbs 16:31)
Like a fine wine, mom’s prayer life is full and nuanced. She has a deep and abiding relationship with God, and speaks of allowing her spirit to commune with the Holy Spirit.
Being 55 years old I know that my relationship with God is at a different place than Mom’s. I don’t have the same depth and assurance in my prayers that she has in her’s. But I believe this is as it should be because she has decades of experience that inform her prayer life. So it is absolutely appropriate that when she speaks to God it should be on a different level of spiritual maturity.
Mom will spend hours each day reading through the Bible and then sitting in silent meditation in conversation with God. Yet she also has a gift for reaching out to others in her community, spending an equal number of hours talking about God but also about their needs, matching one person who has a need with another person who has a surplus.
She is a social broker. People sense this gift of hers and flock to her like bees to honey.
As I write this week’s column, Mom is sitting outside, beneath the shade of a tree speaking to two young girls in their twenties. They’ve been out there for a couple hours now, I have no idea what they’re talking about but they’re laughing. Isn’t it remarkable that a woman of ninety can capture the attention of women much younger? I believe this speaks to Mom’s empathy and her innate understanding of people.
“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (Psalm 92:12-15)
God provides wisdom and spiritual gifts for each stage of our life’s journey. I believe Mom’s, in her tenth decade of life, is a special intimacy with God. A relationship that has been earned over decades of sorrow and joy, and an unerring steadfastness in her relationship with God. The reward for her loyalty has been the sweet spiritual communion that she experiences, which allows her to share what she has learned, with younger generations.
My dream is that in ten years, Mom and I will return here to celebrate her hundredth birthday. I have no doubt her mind will be as sharp as it is now and her love for God will be even stronger.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 72:36)
The lesson I have learned this week is that in every stage of life, God gives us an opportunity to serve him in a way unique to our age. God calls us to make our relationship with him a lifelong pursuit, twining the days of our life to form an indestructible cord of love that binds us to one another and to our Creator.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson is the author of “A Map of Heaven.” She lives in Breckenridge. Join her at Facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths or http://www.suzanneelizabeths.com.
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