A week after the High Holy Days, my wife Beckye looked at me and said, “It’s time to shave.” Apparently, the grey in my beard was making me look old, and according to Beckye I was beginning to look like Colonel Sanders. So I shaved, and even though I couldn’t care less about how old I may have looked, my beardless face did seem to remove twenty years from my appearance. If only it was that simple to remove twenty pounds.
The truth is, if we are lucky, aging is something that we do every day. In our younger years, we embrace aging with gusto. We cannot wait until we are old enough to see an R rated movie, get a driver’s license, vote, drink alcohol, and so much more. Each of these age-related milestones provides us with a sense of self-worth and allows us to join the rest of society in doing things that we were not permitted to do in childhood.
And then, suddenly, we cross a kind of aging threshold, and we want the process to freeze us in time. No matter how old we may be physically many of us still think we can do the things we did in our youth. This mental model, however, comes to a screeching halt the moment we pull a muscle, throw out our backs or feel the discomforts that come with eating a spicy meal. Then, in an instant, we are reminded that as time passes our bodies change.
It is true that the aging process is not a lot of fun. Aging comes with hardships and discomforts that everyone hopes to avoid, and yet, it is equally true that every healthy day we have to share with our family and friends is a gift to be cherished.
From a spiritual perspective, growing older is a blessing to be embraced. The process of aging gracefully is a discipline and an art that demands that we strive to take advantage of all that life has to offer for as long as we are able to do so.
Part of the challenge of aging gracefully is finding meaningful activities and pursuing ongoing challenges that interest us. These might include making time for travel, spiritual pursuits, hobbies, new social groups, lifelong learning, or finding ways to remain physically active.
As we have grown as a congregational family and as we have expanded our facilities, it has become clear that we are ideally poised to offer a wide variety of programs for adults who are empty nesters and beyond. On November 30 at our Fall musical program entitled, Broadway on Bering and Beyond, we launched Senior Chai, an exciting new calendar of events including exercise and wellness programs, entertainment, guest speakers, current event discussion groups, lunch and learns, art classes, travel programs, movies and more.
These programs have been underwritten by a generous financial gift made in memory of Mozelle Barg and Robert Shelby. Through this new programming for older adults, it is our hope to transform our synagogue, which is typically empty during the day, into a thriving center of activity throughout the week. For more information about these new programs see page 4 of the bulletin, visit our website at www.hcrj.org or call the office and ask for Melissa Wolfson.