July 2015



“At fifteen I was committed to learning.

At thirty I took my rightful position.

At forty, I was no longer totally perplexed.

At fifty, I began to understand the unfolding

of my true nature.

At sixty, I was in harmony with contradictions

and ambivalence.

A seventy, at long last, I may follow my heart’s desire

without going astray.”


-Confucius at the age of Seventy




Last month my wife and I were on a Road Scholar trip in Europe and we were having dinner with a Japanese woman.  We got to talking about age and she asked how old I was. “Seventy” I replied, thinking of Gloria Steinem’s apt phrase, “This is how 70 looks.”  Our dinner partner said to me, “No!  You don’t look 70 at all,” and I instantly felt a tinge of pride at my good health, appearance, and vitality.  Then she quickly added, “But then, Caucasians never do look their age.” I instantly felt an encounter with reality.


The incident reminded me of the time I turned 65 and had my first chance to get the senior discount at a museum.  As I went up to the cashier I fumbled for my driver’s license, expecting to be “carded” to prove my eligibility.  Before I could reach into my pocket, the cashier said, “Don’t bother.  You clearly qualify.” Once again, “reality therapy” for gerontologists,          How do I do Morris, who used to tell me “I feel like I’m 18 inside.”


The truth is doctors get sick, funeral directors die, and gerontologists grow old.  I once convened the first symposium on plastic surgery at a gerontological conference: “Face Lifts and Tummy Tucks in an Aging Society.”  It was also the last symposium of its kind.  Some topics in aging we just want to avoid.  I get the impression that many of us in the “field of aging” don’t want to talk much about our own attitudes toward what it means to look, or to feel, our age.  It’s a conversation we ought to be having.


See “This Is What 80 Looks Like” at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/opinion/sunday/collins-this-is-what-80-looks-like.html?_r=0
HR Moody


The truth is that we shall only understand the balance of severity and confidence, of the strenuous and the relaxed, in the context of the common life.

Every believer must have an urgent concern for the relation of the neighbour to Christ, a desire and willingness to be the means by which Christ’s relation with the neighbour becomes actual and transforming. But that urgent concern arises from the sense in myself of the cost and grief involved in separation from life in God, the self- awareness of frailties and failures that I cannot overcome for and by myself. I have, by God’s grace, learned as a member of the Christian community what is the nature of God’s mercy, which does not leave me to overcome my sin by my own effort; so I have something to say to the fellow-sufferer who does not know where to look for hope.

And what I have to say depends utterly on my willingness not to let go of that awareness of myself that reminds me where I start each day – not as a finished saint but as a needy person still struggling to grow.


the look


“The World is not something to
look at, it is something to be in.”
Mark Rudman

I look and look.
Looking’s a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.
Walking wherever looking takes one.

The eyes
dig and burrow into the world.
They touch
fanfare, howl, madrigal, clamor.
World and the past of it,
not only
visible present, solid and shadow
that looks at one looking.

And language? Rhythms
of echo and interruption?
a way of breathing.

breathing to sustain
walking and looking,
through the world,
in it.


Denise Levertov, Looking, Walking, Being



“Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My seventies were

interesting and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate. I grow more

intense as I age…


We who are old know that age is more than a disability. It is an intense

and varied experience, almost beyond our capacity at times, but something

to be carried high.”


-Florida Scott-Maxwell, The Measure of My Days