I am beginning to understand what it means to be discounted because I am a senior person and I don’t like it. I have years of experience and have mellowed over the years so that people can hear the message of God that I have been privileged to be granted to tell.
I remember being young and feckless. I remember the amount of pain that it gave me because I had no patience and I had no understanding of the advice I was being given by those who wanted to help me. But one thing I am very grateful for is that I did myclinical training at a geriatric center while I was in seminary. There I learned to respect those who were my parents age and older, and listen to their stories. There was wisdom there. Those people had served in the Pacific during WWII or endured Nazi POW camps or lived through the Depression, or the Dust Bowl. There was even one woman who was a survivor of the Titanic. I listened to the pain of their lives and the joys too. And most importantly I listened to how God had acted in their lives.
Sometimes I had to listen to the same stories over and over. But that came with the territory. It was part of their healing and it was part of my education of how God heals us of the stupidity of our youth. But I always had respect for the history of those folk, of the life experience they had and while it didn’t quite fit the era I was living in, there was much to be learned that I could use for my own life.
I find that I am running up against those who think that I have reached the age that I should just fold up my tent and go away. I am not technologically astute (but 70 yr. olds don’t generally have blogs.) I am slow of foot and creaky at best, but my mind has not gone. And I do speak a spiritual language that most understand and many appreciate. In fact, I am much farther along the religious spiritual continuum than most of the Gen Xers who are still trying to get the Spirit to abide by the canons of the Church.
The Church is a mean muthah at times. It does not support anyone but the majority. And sometimes the majority is just plain wrong! We certainly have seen that in this diocese. Being the contrarian that I am, I don’t trust the majority at any time. Partly that is because I am of a minority. But it also comes from listening to those who told their stories when I was a seminarian. The way that those people survived the trials of life was by listening to their inner voice—that quiet way that God whispers in our ears of what is right, just and merciful.
Jesus was a contrarian too. Over and over he holds the constructs of his society up to the light of faith and proclaims them bogus. He called themajority to become the minority or stand in the shoes of the minority. He did miracles for the outcast. He admitted the ostracized to his way and taught them to stand for those who had no power or rights. He also taught with the passion of faith, not the words from theology texts. He taught with humor and in good rabbinic fashion he taught with metaphors and miracles to understand that God calls us to a kind of radicality that eschews ( I love using that word!) being of the majority.
One thing that listening to seniors does for one is recognize that the construct of of generations is bogus. I am supposedly of the “Quiet Generation” but that generation that was anything but quiet. It was those of us who were born during and shortly before WWII who brought about the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and the Peace Corp. We were anything but quiet.
Generations by definition are majorities who have glammed together because they think that they have characteristics that are alike. But not all people in that generation think alike and should not be encouraged to do so. It does not allow the Spirit to move in their generation to step forward in the unique of holiness.
I have blogged before on the indignity that the young foist upon those with white hair when they call them ‘Sweetie’. The indignity that the majority always foists on the minority when they are unwilling to ‘wait their turn’—unwilling to listen to the wisdom of lived out experience—unwilling to acknowledge their sophomoric claim to rightness rather than being faithful to the Spirit of embracing the wholeness of humanity. It will not be long before those same generations will be angry and fighting those who are younger than they are when they have learned of their stupidity.
It was only in the late ‘60’s that we began to hear of the Generation Gap. It is a Boomerconstruct that allowed the awesome glut of those who were born after WWII to ignore the needs of those who were before them or behind them. Their ‘me’ culture has destroyed the freedoms that their parents had fought for. And it divided our populations into generations ever since. Each group now has to have its own characteristics rather than think about what it means to be whole.
By ‘whole’, I do not mean the ‘majority’. The majority is a power construct. The ‘whole’ is the combinations of insiders and the outsiders, Jews and Greeks, males and females, slaves and free, that Jesus envisioned for the People of God. The outcasts were part of the whole in Jesus’ mind. They were practitioners of the way—the Way of equality, of generosity, of mercy and grace.
Perhaps I am of the age that has to move over. But I don’t think so just yet. That time will come soon enough for various reasons. And no matter what age we are now, we will ALL get there soon enough. But we don’t need to be moved out just because someone in the majority says so. Christ is not about power plays. Christ is about mercy and caring for others.