Column: Our future in retirement homes

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The norm is to move the elderly and dying out of our daily lives, putting them in places on the edge of society where we don’t really have to see them. We call these places retirement homes.

Why?

I suppose part of it is we don’t have the time or tools to help them, and even if we did it is hard work. It’s demanding physically and emotionally to be a caregiver. I would also suggest we’d rather not think about the fact that we’ll end up there someday as well, our bodies breaking down, dependent on the care of others.

As a pastor I am honored to visit people in retirement homes. Many still have so much to offer, but most of us are too busy to bother with them. After spending time with them, I have realized something – they can tell us the future. Like looking into a crystal ball, they can give shadowy glimpses of where different life choices actually lead. Even the ones who have made a mess of their lives know exactly what happens to people who make certain choices…

What happens to a person who abandons their family for work? They know.

What happens to a person who lets sensual pleasure rule them? They know.

How secure is a person on their deathbed who refused to wrestle with spiritual things? They know.

Though children are our future, the elderly can tell you a lot more about your future. Every time you drive by a nursing/retirement home, you are passing your future. You can try to ignore it, push it out of your mind, or pay someone a lot of money to care for your aging family members, but you’re only ignoring the inevitable. You’re also missing an opportunity to learn something valuable.

Honestly, I am a little tired of young, arrogant, know-it-all writers (i.e. me at times) claiming to be wise. We assume we know what’s best for society, pushing our agenda forward. Instead of seeking wisdom we let our basic human hungers lead us, wrapping our rhetoric with big words and biased research.

Do you know why some of the elderly are nervous about the future? It’s because children (in every sense of the word) are leading it and many unwilling to learn from the past.

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12.

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