It’s January and the middle of winter in the UK. So it was a welcome sight to see signs of spring today: yellow crocuses beginning to flower and an almond tree covered in beautiful soft, pink blossom; both signs of new life and the promise of warmer weather yet to come.
In his writings, King Solomon (c. 950 BC) once described old age in a series of metaphors, in which he likened almond blossom to the snowy locks of those in later years. Solomon was known for his wisdom, and wisdom is often the product of a long life. The elderly have fought life’s battles, seen triumphs and tragedies, and learnt lessons, tips and tricks that can benefit us all. Much can be gained from heeding the wisdom of experience.
How strange it is then to live in a society, where youth often takes precedence over the elderly. As young people, we think we know everything, but as we get older and start a family perhaps, we begin to realise that we don’t know as much as we thought. Then when we reach our 40’s, we realise how little we know, and how much we still have to learn. On the other hand, young people do have new ideas. They’re great with technology; they’re not bound by tradition, and they certainly have more energy to get things done, but most have yet to learn from experience, and they will.
In some societies around the world, there is a great respect for older people, not just because of what they’ve learnt, but because of the years they’ve spent providing for the next generation. There is a broad spectrum of senior citizens here in the UK, but amongst them there are many, who face either loneliness or poverty, frailty or sickness, and who could do with seeing a friendly face or a helping hand. Perhaps it’s the same where you live? Let’s respect and honour our older neighbours – one day, God willing, we will be the older generation!
“Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.”
Leviticus 19:32 (NIVUK)