Ageism - Confrontation
Henri Nouwen has postulated that, “care for the aging means, more often than not, means confronting all men and women with their (our) illusion of immortality out of which the rejection of old age comes forth…Care for the aging, after all, means care for all ages, since all human beings–whether they are ten, thirty, fifty, seventy, or eighty years old–are participating in the same process of aging.” He wants us to encourage the acceptance of aging in youth and the understanding that “being” should not be measured by “having”. Henri proposes that society encourage that instead of measuring success by grades, degrees and positions that we help everyone focus on contact with our inner selves where we can experience our own “solitude and silence as potential recipients” of the light. “When one has not discovered and experienced the light that is love, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, kindness, and deep joy in the early years, how can one expect to recognize it in old age?” He reminds us: “If you have gathered nothing in your youth, how can you find anything in your old age?” (Si 25: 3-4). Henri considers confrontation the “radical side of care, because it promotes a risky detachment from the concerns of the world and a free manifestation of that love which can change the shape of our society. It not only unmasks the illusions but also makes visible the healing light that gives us the ‘power to become children of God’.” Remember our earlier discussion of Rembrandt? He visually employed both acceptance and confrontation by painting his self portrait as he aged. He faced his own brokenness and invited us, while viewing his self-portraits, to confront our own illusions. Do you confront your aging self? It is a gift…embrace it. What is your experience? When was your first awareness of your own mortality? Take this moment to confront and embrace it…
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