A prayer as the years pass

Undated handout photo of the Rev David Clarke, elected Wednesday February 8th 2006 as the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Rev Clarke, who has been minister of Terrace Row Church in Coleraine, Co Londonderry for over 20 years, is the son of a butcher, and his brother played professional football for Sunderland. See PA story ULSTER Church. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PA
Undated handout photo of the Rev David Clarke, elected Wednesday February 8th 2006 as the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Rev Clarke, who has been minister of Terrace Row Church in Coleraine, Co Londonderry for over 20 years, is the son of a butcher, and his brother played professional football for Sunderland. See PA story ULSTER Church. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PA
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On a sundial in an Essex church, the following lines are inscribed;

‘When. as a child I laughed and wept,

Time crept.

When, as a youth I dreamed and talked,

Time walked.

When I became a full-grown man,

Time ran.

And later as I older grew,

Time flew.

Soon I shall find while treading on,

Time gone.

The sundial motto is an accurate summary of life’s journey.

Poets and songwriters reflect on the changes which come with the ever-rushing years.

Life expectancy in Shakespeare’s England was vastly different from our own.

He wrote of the time when ‘forty winters shall besiege thy brow, and plough deep furrows in thy beauty’s field ‘.

Even in our age of better health care and nutrition, the years still leave their mark.

The late Leonard Cohen started a song with the line,’ My friends are gone and my hair is grey.’

The recent publicity about the 14-year-old cancer sufferer whose wished to have her body cryogenically frozen after death was granted by the High Court , is another expression of our human rebellion against the aging and dying process.

The Bible itself calls death ‘the last enemy’(I Corinthians 15;26).

The prayer of a seventeenth century nun contains some pearls of wisdom, which we all need to embrace as the years roll by.

Here are a few of her petitions;

‘Lord, Thon knowest better than I know myself, that I am growing older and will someday be old.

Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs.

Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. Seal my lips on my aches and pains.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.

Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people.

And, give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.

Amen’

That’s something for us all to work on, whatever our age.