We’re grateful to Julie Laughland from Denham, Buckinghamshire, who’s been reading a new book on ageing (our English spelling as opposed to the American ‘aging’ without an e).
It's called Aging Faithfully: The holy invitation of growing older (Navpress, 2021) by Alice Fryling, and Julie reviews it for her local parishioners at St Mary's church, Denham, as well as us.
We can see our bodies getting older, but what happens in our soul as we age?
Does our relationship with God, and with other people, change in our senior years?
These are questions that author Alice Fryling has been pondering as she has grown older. She shares her thoughts in this helpful little book, and includes questions for reflection at the end of each chapter, inviting us to consider our own attitudes to ageing.
How do we deal with the changes that we face moving into later life? Ageing is often associated with loss, and this must be accepted. But what do we gain, as older people? The author suggests ways in which our inner lives can be richer as we move from being ‘outwardly productive’ to being ‘inwardly fruitful’. This is where a Christian faith makes such a difference. We may have less energy, and be more dependent on others physically, but God can continue to change and renew us through His Holy Spirit. As the Bible says: ‘Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day’ (2 Corinthians 4:16, GNB). Friendships and family relationships can be nurtured as we enrich others’ lives with the time, wisdom and focused attention that older people offer.
God invites us all to ‘be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10, NIV) – older people have an advantage here, because sitting quietly is becoming more normal! We may also increasingly experience God’s love in our senior years through other people’s care for us. We are reminded of the truth that we are precious to God at every age and in every season of life.
We will all experience retirement and ageing in our own way; the author acknowledges this by including comments from her husband’s and friends’ perspectives. We hear from older parents, from adult children with ageing parents and from people who are ageing on their own.
This book does not shy away from difficult questions about grief, loss and the fears we all experience, but the author’s faith in God and the peace that can be found through trusting him as we grow older makes this a hopeful and uplifting read.