For me, the sunflower expresses an image of growing old. The heavy heads of the flowers are full of fruit. They don’t do anything anymore. They simply expose themselves to the sun and ripen until they are harvested and become a food source for others. All beauty is gone. So, it is like what I am, an old person. I don’t have to do anything anymore; I don’t have to gain recognition through performance. I am just there.
When I consider my current situation, my current life is shaped by three main areas:
To let go
and the desire to bear fruit.
I would like to place letting go under the scripture Jn 21:18: “Amen, amen, I say to you: when you were still young, you girded yourself and could go wherever you wanted. But when you get old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will strap you and lead you where you don’t want to go. “
I have to let go of my ideas about life and get involved with what God expects me to do. He is kind and allows me to do it in installments. First the activity, my own will, my own self and then letting go of life: This is a process that is sometimes painful and relates to different areas.
Letting go of health
I am supposed to take care of my health, but with moderation. When I am constantly worried about my health, I am constantly plagued by fears that I will lose it.
Letting go of relationships
Relationships decrease with age and I have to learn more and more to be alone. If I lose a dear, trusted person through death or moving, it is painful and a long process of mourning will follow, which goes through different phases.
Letting go of possession
In death I have to let go of everything and that is why I am well advised to practice it now, in which I part with a lot, give it away. This can lead to small relationships again.
Letting go of positions and power
For me it was a deep turning point when I was no longer informed or asked. By being more active, I whitewash these losses to show that I
still have everything under control. But the more the old man holds on to his position, the more enemies he creates and rebellion and catastrophe can occur. If this process is endured, he leads into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Letting go of life
For me, death is the end of life here on earth and at the same time the passage and beginning of life in the glory of God.
Dying is not only the end of my life but has always been present in my life story. In every rejection, disappointment, helplessness, feeling of powerlessness, frailty, experience of illness, I experience letting go and dying.
It is helpful for me to meditate on the cross and Jesus’ passion, as HE accepted death. Just as the death of Jesus was the way into God’s glory, so will my way to God only go through death.
I have certain ideas about dying for myself, but it is out of my hands. I also have to let go of that and accept death as it was given to me by God.
Age comes by itself. If it is to succeed, I have to unconditionally accept my life story and deal with my past, i.e. place my life with all the positives and negatives in the mercy of God and trust that God has accepted it.
I have to learn to accept my own limits: helplessness, powerlessness, weakness, fatigue, disabilities, loneliness, illness, forgetfulness and much more. I remembered the scripture, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Helps me to accept my limits, is the awareness that God surrounds and carries me with his healing, loving closeness and that in death he surrounds me with his loving arms.
I would like to place the third point, the desire to bear fruit, under Psalm 92: 13-15: “The righteous thrive like the palm tree, he grows like the cedars of Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age and remain full of juice and full of freshness.
According to this, there must be two prerequisites in order to still bear fruit in old age: righteousness and planted in the house of the Lord.
Just is the person who meets people with their needs. The righteous not only revolve around themselves, but also always keep the others in view.
Those who are rooted in God bear fruit. It is nice when my slowdown turns into patience and serenity. When I learn to wait and listen in solitude, the relationship with my God is deepened. At my age I don’t have to prove anything to myself, let myself be determined by people’s expectations or compare myself with others. In this way I achieve a deep inner freedom.
I experience myself in the field of tension between letting go and acceptance. Sometimes one thing works and sometimes the other is better. For me, old age is a process that I want to get involved in again and again. I ask God that he will give me a listening, thankful heart and let me become a blessing for others.
Sr. M. Mathildis
Prayer of St. Teresa
(1515 – 1582)
Lord, you know better than I do that day by day I will be older and one day old. Release me from the great passion of trying to get the affairs of others in order. Teach me to be thoughtful and helpful, but not dominant.
Save me from endlessly listing details and give me momentum to get to the heart of the matter.
Teach me to be silent about my illnesses and complaints. They are increasing and the desire to describe them grows from year to year.
I do not plead the gift of listening to other people’s descriptions of illnesses with pleasure. But teach me to at least endure it patiently.
Teach me to discover unexpected talents in other people and give me, O Lord, the beautiful gift of mentioning them too.
I don’t dare ask for a better memory – just a little more humility and a little less assertiveness when my memory doesn’t match that of others.
Teach me the wonderful wisdom that I can be mistaken.
Keep me as lovable as possible. I don’t want to be a curmudgeon
but not a saint either, because it is difficult to live with them.