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Blog

Of an Age

Tom Sturch

UntitledYouth hasn't got anything to do with chronological age. It's times of hope and happiness.~ Wallace Stegner, Crossing To Safety

There is a grace in the way our bodies are made that lets us avoid looking too often or too long at the evidences of our years. Our parts are arranged so that we look out and reflect on life around us. This may be a comfort lost on younger readers. There are a couple of things about aging that take aging to appreciate: first, all the excitement of first experiences pales in the slow burn of getting it just right; and second, humans are beset with the appearance of age for about twice as long as the appearance of youth. (See other reasons to celebrate aging here.) Still, mirrors become less important and smiles become the essential accessory.

References for age, then, are in how we feel and where we take our cues. And even as hours and days seem to fly and the future seems unsure, the rhythms and reminders of seasons and Nature's reticence to change allows us to see the past in the present and to imagine a life celebrated beyond our small measures of time and being.

One of the memories my wife and I made around our thirtieth anniversary was worshiping at the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The church was founded in 1766, decades before the town and ten years before the U.S. This seems remarkable to us from the south, but in the small towns of coastal New England it is ordinary context. Boothbay Harbor is 2,165 people, 1,084 households, and 550 families who put the value of place over the vagaries of economy and life in community as their ring on Time's tree. This ethic is almost absent in the culture of urban centers and is continually eroded by the force of our media-driven lives. And here's a statistic: today, 83 percent of Americans live in urban centers and numbers are increasing.

While in Boothbay Harbor we spent a morning at the lighthouse on Pemaquid Point (banner photo). There, the glaciers of the last ice age have raked the beard of Maine’s southeastern granite chin. Since then, the incessant crashing of the sea has done little to change its storied appearance. I am sure it has everything to do with what it’s made of. What do you see around you that is old, sturdy and slow to change? What is it saying?