Words of Wellness

May 25, 2011 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

"Forever Young"

†† † I just returned from the annual conference for the National Episcopal Health Ministries. This was my first time at this conference and I was delighted to meet so many health ministers, parish nurses and clergy. They all are involved in a variety of grass root efforts in local congregations designed to enhance the health, wellness and wholeness of their local communities and they all had wonderful stories to share of making a difference in lives of the people they serve.

†† † While at the conference I had the opportunity to attend an outstanding workshop on spirituality and aging. The premise of this workshop is that as people age, spirituality frequently takes on an added significance in their lives, and thus any approach to health and wellness needs to address this vital dimension of wholeness. As we age we tend to become more aware of our vulnerability and dependency on others. We become more aware of limits and our own finitude. We experience an increased sense of loss and often in the midst of that loss we tend to seek a deeper sense of faith and meaning. The second half of live tends to involve more introspection than the first half of life.

†† † I believe there are three essential elements to take into consideration when striving towards healthy spirituality as we grow older, and these elements can be divided by the time frames of past, present and future. The first element of aging well is letting go of regrets and forgiving oneself for mistakes made or opportunities missed. A second element in aging well is not becoming overwhelmed with worries and preoccupations about the future. "Who of you by worrying can add a singe hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:27). The final element in aging well is to live fully in the present, continuing to be involved in activities that you are passionate about and that give you a sense of meaning and purpose.

†† † Spirituality is about what inspires us and what makes us feel most alive. Our spiritual life is like the root system of a tree--it sustains and supports us when the storms of life come. We have all been blessed to know people whose spiritual wellness has blossomed in later life, even while their physical wellness has declined.

†† † Speaking of spirituality and aging, yesterday was Bob Dylan's 70th birthday. Dylan was apparently already an "old soul" at 21 when he wrote "Blowing in the Wind." Whatever you may think of Mr. Dylan and his music, I believe it is hard to argue that he has written some of the most spiritual, soulful music written during the last 50 years. He is a good example today of being fully alive in the present moment as he continues to write and perform new music at concerts for audiences all over the world.

†† † I will close with the lyrics of one of my favorite Dylan songs, "Forever Young." He has performed this song 492 times in concert, with the first performance happening on January 3, 1974 in Chicago, and the most recent performance happening just four weeks ago in Auckland, New Zealand. The last stanza especially captures the essence of staying young in Spirit, no what your age. And reflecting back on all the wonderful people I met this past weekend who are involved in health ministries, thanks for all you do to help older adults keep their spirits "forever young." You can listen to the song at this link:†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sldgunY3Fw

May God bless and keep you always

May your wishes all come true

May you always do for others

And let others do for you 

May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung 

May you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous

May you grow up to be true

May you always know the truth

And see the lights surrounding you 

May you always be courageous

Stand upright and be strong

May you stay forever young 

Forever young, forever young 

May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy 

May your feet always be swift

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful

May your song always be sung

May you stay forever young

Forever young, forever young 

May you stay forever young

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