I just spent two weeks in a convalescent home for therapy for a badly shattered shoulder.
After a few days I felt good enough at eating with my left hand to eat lunch in the dining room.
Being there temporarily, I had just brought exercise clothes.The others were all dressed quite elegantly, even with matching jewelry. I felt a bit shabby until a helper put baby blue terry cloth bibs on all of us. Somehow bibs are a great equalizer!
I have wondered often why God allows old age to be so humbling. Having some pride seems a virtue of sorts. But now I think that is what old age is about. Recognizing that we are all equal in God’s eyes and loved just as we are without one plea or status symbol. Over and over Jesus tells us that His way is not the world’s way, that our value is based on the love of God, not achievement, riches, nationality, religion, image.
More and more I realize that only when we either let go or are stripped of those, do we discover not only our human brotherhood, but our oneness with all, including Jesus, the human expression of the unconditional love that is God.
What was the “Way” of Jesus? It was to witness to the Love that is God by healing the sick, feeding the hungry and calling us to do the same. How did it end in worldly terms? In helplessness, unvalued by the world, identified with the lost, no longer even able to help himself, never-the-less others, abandoned by almost all of those closest to him.
I can tell you from experience with my mother’s dying by inches with Alzheimer’s and friends who spent their last years in nursing homes or even alone most days living with their children who work, Jesus’ last days describe many peoples’ last years.
We leave the world the way we came into it: naked, helpless, equal, of infinite value, and loved by God because of whom God is, not whom we are.
And the challenge of life is to become able to love ourselves and others the same way.