This morning, Augusta's Tea Chat started up again for the year. Tea Chat is a ministry of the Uniting Church that provides a morning tea and a social gathering space for the elderly people in town who make use of the HAAC bus to go shopping each Thursday. This year we have decided to provide a "Thought for the Day" each week. It was up to me to provide the first one!
I thought a lot about what words of wisdom I could possibly impart to these people who were at least twice my age. It caused me to reflect on the more elderly people to whom I minister. Most of these people are absolute treasures and are certainly growing old gracefully. I wondered what it was in people that made the difference between growing old gracefully and being a grumpy old woman or man.
What does it mean to be full of grace later in life? My husband has a T-shirt that says, "To be old and wise you must first be young and stupid". I showed the shirt to the elderly folk who came along today and asked how many of them had been young and stupid. Most of them agreed that they had done foolish things and made mistakes in their lifetime. I suggested to them that the grace or undeserved love we receive as we mess up throughout life is what makes us age in a grace-full way.
One humble lady admitted that she was not old and wise, but old and stupid. When I protested at her seemingly negative view of herself, she laughed and announced she is becoming more graceful each day. Growing old is not an exciting prospect, but I only hope that I can do it half as gracefully as some of the wonderful people with whom I am privileged to work.