This week it was my turn to teach the Sunday School class I attend. We have been studying the wisdom literature this quarter and the reading for the day was Ecclesiastes 12:1-7. Not exactly uplifting scripture for someone facing another birthday in a few days.
This section begins with the familiar, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth…” Most of us have heard that read. Usually the speaker pauses at that point to admonish teenagers to get serious about their spiritual lives.
Speakers stop there because the rest of the passage is a downer. “…before the days of trouble come … when you say ‘I have no pleasure in them.’ … (when) strong men are bent … when one is afraid of heights and terrors in the road … the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails…” And on and on. The writer of Ecclesiastes (Solomon maybe) did not view old age as the golden years.
This literature (Adult Bible Studies, Cokesbury, The United Methodist Publishing House) is written for all adult classes past college and one of the questions suggested for discussion was, “How do you view old age?” I had to answer for myself and the other women in the room, “Up close.”
My advice to myself — and to anyone else who has reached their biblical allotment of three score and ten — is to take the counsel the curmudgeonly writer of Ecclesiastes gives to the young and use it for yourself.
To paraphrase from chapter 11:9-10, “Rejoice, senior, that you have attained the age of wisdom, and let your heart cheer you in these days of reflection. Follow the inclination of your heart, pursue those ambitions put on the back burner. Banish anxiety from your minds; don’t worry about being old. Youth is rather over-rated anyway.”