Powered by Connection

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“The wise person knows what time it is in her/his own life and in the life of the community.  She/he knows that sensing the kairos (the prepared or ripe moment) is more important than conforming to the compulsive rhythm of chronological time. Thus, the wise person is able to give herself/himself gracefully to seemingly contradictory experiences, because she/he knows that they belong to different seasons of life, all of which are necessary to the whole. Spring and summer, growth and decay, creativity and fallowness, health and sickness, power and impotence, and life and death all belong within the economy of being.”

 – Sam Keen, American Author, Professor and Philosopher 

In the United States of America, May is observed as Older Americans Month.  The theme for 2024, set by the Administration for Community Living, established by the Older Americans Act, is Powered by Connection.  I immediately found myself thinking that now that I am 80, just what does this theme mean to me?  My sometimes friend, GOOGLE, gave me some insight into this question.  I learned that 33% of us make it to 80.  My 10 current classmates in the convent are 80 or 81, the eldest being 87.  I checked out the question, “What happens to your body at 80 years old?”  (You probably don’t want to know but this is what GOOGLE said)—With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density weakening them and making them more susceptible to fracture.  You might even become a bit shorter.  Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility—factors that can affect your coordination, stability and balance.  (A bright spot here may be that shorter people live longer than most, according to my GOOGLE source.)

In light of what our culture may think or say about aging, I like to think that rather than being preoccupied with chronological time, (which only tells me how many times I’ve been around the sun), I am able to live life at this time and space open to the different seasons of life mentioned by Sam Keen.  As we age, I’m sure we become ever more aware of the contradictory experiences in our lives and the lives of others.  This is where Powered by Connection may come in.

In this day and at this age we need others to help us to be all that we can be.  We need to be connected on many levels to physically, mentally, socially and spiritually live our best life.  Physically, we may need health care providers and caregivers to empower us to keep on keeping on with exercise, healthy food, necessary medications, and treatments.  Mentally, we may need to connect with counselors, neurologists and mental health professionals who can diagnose and prescribe solutions for new and perhaps lifelong memory issues.

Socially, we may need to establish new connections as a spouse, children, siblings, and friends move on through life choices and even death which cause us to lose important relationships.  This is very important as the losses and changes in life shrink our social connections just when we seem to need them the most.  Spiritually, depending on a lifelong awareness of God’s presence in your life, and a sense of your own mortality due to so many changes and losses this may be one area where you indeed feel the importance of the POWER OF CONNECTION.

I pray that you will sense the ripe moment and give yourself over gracefully to the contradictory experiences that are part of just being alive on this beautiful planet.  And as Scripture says, 70 is the sum of our years, 80 if we are strong.

Sister Mary Thill, OSF, can be reached at mthill@sistersosf.org.

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Emilie Wenzler Owens
30 days ago

Hello, Sister Mary Thill! I admired you from the very first moment I met you some 25-30 years ago! I gained a good deal of wisdom from you back then when I started at AOoA and joined NOGA!! You spoke so eloquently about treasuring our elders and honoring them. Well, now I am offcially ‘old’ myself (73). DO, keep sharing your beautiful thoughts and take good care. Thank you for all you have given to so many!! God bless you!! Emilie Owens

Sister Irenaeus
1 month ago

Sister Mary T., as always you bring to our attention our ever changing life and all that we experience as we age. I sure have become very aware of daily changes in my life. I am so grateful for the support of those around me to help me accept, understand better, and support me in my daily journey in my 80’s. Most especially, having that deep connection to our Loving God to walk with me minute by minute and know His comfort fills me with peace and gratitude, that I wake up to a new day, also invoking our Blessed… Read more »

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