SAUCIER — From age to age


A cake, ablaze with candles toasting the shredded coconut at their feet, was no subtle reminder that another year had passed.

In that piercing light, I could not deny that I had reached the middle years of my eighth decade on this lovely whirling rock.

I have friends much older, offering the hope of cakes with larger fires, but I am a year away from the age my paternal grandparents died. Though separated by 60 years, it still gives me pause.

I don’t think of death that much, though I have become resigned that it will come, and still hope to be disappointed when it does. What I ponder most is the time between now and then, and how well I will navigate it.

St. Augustine wrote, “You only grow old on the outside.” I don’t find that particularly consoling.

Beauty is only skin-deep, but age goes to the bone, and some days I feel it may be deeper than that.

A cold, a cough, a wound or a sprain lingers longer. My hearing has diminished, my stamina shortened, and my pace slowed.

I’m not the man I was yesterday, but sadly better than I’ll probably be tomorrow.

All that could be terribly depressing were it not for the effects aging can have on the “inside,” if we only give it some of the attention we give to our physical ebbing.

I have always enjoyed being around others, and I still do, but now I feel comfortable in solitude, looking forward to times when I will be alone. In these moments, at long last, I am less a stranger to myself.

My hearing decline is frustrating, but at the same time, I have come to cherish silence. From prayer to a muted sportscast, the silence seems to make me more aware, more open, more attentive to the whispers of our world and our God.

In yet another irony, I tend to listen more. I focus more on the words of another, and less on my next response. Age has disabused me of the idea that I have the truth. Everyone’s story contains a part of it.

With time, I have experienced the sheer joy that comes from helping others and am slowly getting better at letting others help me. I find it’s a way of sharing that joy.

The catechism defines grace as “participation in the life of God.”

I am beginning to suspect that aging may be grace.