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Spiritual

Non-denominational spiritual programs

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Daily Prayer and Reflection

The website Pray Every Day is an inspiring resource that provides a prayer and reflection for every day of the year. Just click on the day of the month and print a PDF page.

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Aged to Perfection

This month's spiritual activity celebrates the gift of the years we have been given through prayer and song.

Props, Preparations, and Program How-To's


Introduction

There is a saying, “Growing older is not for sissies.” Would you agree with that statement? Can you name three things about growing older that you have found most difficult? Now, can you name three things that have gotten better with age? Whereas it might be a bit more difficult to come up with the positives associated with aging, it is essential to our continued emotional and spiritual well-being to do so. Every day should be a celebration of the life and the years we have been given. There is a time for us to be young and, if we are fortunate, a time for us to grow old.

Opening Song

“Turn, Turn, Turn” ~ Pete Seeger (adapted from Book of Ecclesiastes)

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time of peace, I swear it's not too late!

Reflections

All living things eventually die. Humans are the only beings in nature aware of their own mortality and the process of aging (as far as we know). We recognize the changes in our mirror’s reflection as well as in the way we feel. Some of us desperately try to hold onto our youth by any means possible, some become bitter and depressed, and others look it straight in the eye and rejoice in what they still have rather than what they don’t.

  • How do you feel about growing older? What category of people, as listed above, would you place yourself in?
  • Does your faith help you cope with your own mortality and the losses experienced with aging?
  • Do you believe a positive attitude (as well as a sense of humor) about aging helps make life easier?

Prayer

Lord, Thou knowest better than I myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all; but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may 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, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.

Amen. ~Author Unknown

Reflections

  • What have you learned to do less of (or more of) since you have grown older?
  • What has become less important to you?
  • Do you find it easier to be patient with and kinder to others?

And the Bible Says…

Cast me not off in time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. Psalms 71:9

The glory of young men [is] their strength; and the beauty of old men [is] the gray head.
Proverbs 20:29

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:18

A gray head is a crown of glory; it is found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31

Grandchildren are the crown of old men. And the glory of sons is their fathers. Proverbs 17:6

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:32

Never Stop Learning and Growing – An Inspirational Story

The first day of school, our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, "Hi, handsome. My name is Grace. I'm 87 years old. Can I give you a hug?" I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze.

"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.

She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel."

"No, seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

"I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!" she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine" as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Grace became a campus icon, and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up, and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester, we invited Grace to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three-by-five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed, she leaned into the microphone and simply said, "I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know."

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began: "We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

"There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are 19 years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn 20 years old. If I am 87 years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn 88. Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change.

"Have no regrets. The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets."

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year’s end, Grace finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation, Grace died peacefully in her sleep.

Over 2,000 college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be. ~ Author Unknown

Old Age Is a Gift

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body—the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person who lives in my mirror, but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, or my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avant-garde on my patio. I am entitled to overeat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon, before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon?  I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the ‘60s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will. I will walk the beach in a swimsuit that is stretched over a bulging body and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set. They, too, will get old!

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten, and I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. I can say no and mean it. I can say yes and mean it.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day.

Today, I wish you a day of ordinary miracles. ~ Author Unknown

Reflections

  • What are some of the lessons these two stories teach us? (We are never too old to learn, find humor in life, accept change, and embrace opportunities.)
  • Do you find yourself to be more or less tolerant of your mistakes and the mistakes of others?
  • What do you wish for yourself and others your age?

Closing Prayer

Dear God, I trust in your master plan for me—the circle of life beginning with birth and ending with death. I am grateful for each day I have been granted and for all of the experiences and wisdom I have gained along the way. I will not regret what I have lost but will celebrate what I have learned. I will honor each wrinkle, love each sag, and rejoice in a life well lived. I thank you for the gift of many years—not everyone gets that luxury. Forgive me for my complaints and help me find something to appreciate each and every day until I abide with you. Amen.

Closing Song

"Circle of Life" ~ Elton John

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done

Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give

In the circle of life
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life

Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars

There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

Additional Activities

  1. Here are some quotes about being older to read aloud.
  2. And here are 20 more to share.
  3. Check your local library for the book What’s So Funny About Getting Old?