What Are You Doing Tuesday Morning?
In case you didn’t know, the world is changing! Not only is the world changing, but it’s also changing fast. I read an article online that cited the work of futurist Ray Kurzweil from his best-selling book The Singularity is Near. Kurzweil surmised that we will see 20,000 years of change in the next century alone. He asserts that the rate of change in the world accelerates every decade. That means 20 years from now the rate of change will be 4x what it is today. I’m not arguing the accuracy of Kurzweil’s claim, but there’s merit to it. Just look at how much change we experienced in 2020 alone. In one year, we experienced a global pandemic, social upheaval and the rise of a historical social movement in Black Lives Matter, a historical election and outcome, incredible technological shifts, and the first mRNA vaccine developed in less than a year.
Change is all around us; some we embrace and some we don’t. We now plug up cars and charge them overnight, store data files in the cloud, take pictures with our phones, and jeans are sold with holes in them. While the world we live in changes around us at breakneck pace, this is only compounded by the changes we experience due to our aging bodies. Like the technological and social changes, we experience, we embrace and shun the biological changes that sweep over us with time. While I am not the age to be considered a senior adult, I have lived enough years to experience the effects of aging. I’ve noticed that I’m not as spry as I was in my twenties. I now wear corrective lenses, I take prescribed “maintenance” medications, I’ve discovered some grey hairs, I struggle to stay awake past 9:30 pm, and my children let me know that I’m no longer cool; I’m just a dad. While my personal experiences with aging may be superficial, they provide for me a peek into the world of the population we serve here at Beacon Hill.
After my first few months of immersion into the world of senior living, I’ve gained perspective and insight that no classroom or textbook could have afforded me. Though my title is Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Care, I have intentionally made myself a student to be educated by our residents. Viewing the world through the same lens as them has compelled me to create a space in which dialogue can be had about the aging experience. From my interactions with senior adults starting with my grandparents, pastoral ministry and now chaplaincy, I have discovered that so much of the change experienced by seniors does not happen on their own terms.
This article serves as an introduction to one of our most impactful programs in Spiritual Care called “Nobody Asked Me” (NAM). Each Tuesday in NAM, we have lively, candid discussion around the completion of the statement “nobody asked me.” Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose when our health fails, when or how our spouse dies, when we must surrender our car keys, when our memory fades, or when we have to move out of our homes because we are no longer capable of maintaining them. The NAM group allows us to discuss our feelings as we face these realities. We draw strength from each other as we listen and share personal experiences without judgement. Even though aging impacts each person differently, we realize the journey is not one we take alone. We have created our own “fountain of youth” through our laughter, collective pearls of wisdom, and hefty doses of encouragement. Every conversation ends in fresh inspiration to continue to allow life to be an adventure. You may be getting older, but you’re not dead; so LIVE! You get to decide what living will look like for you.
NAM is a continual work in progress. We’ve got unfinished business and we’ll be resuming the work Tuesday. Join our work as we discuss resolving our feelings about our unfinished business. Your insight and perspective are needed. We’ll see you on Tuesday!