Henri Nouwen believes that the only way to combat ageism and care for the elderly, a person must first: “enter into close contact wth your own aging self, to sense your own time, and to experience the movements of your own life cycle. From this aging self, healing can come forth and others can be invited to cast off the paralyzing fear for their own future.” Nouwen futher explains that: “as long as we think that caring means only being nice and friendly to old people, paying them a visit, bringing them a flower or offering them a ride, we are apt to forget how much more important it is for us to be WILLING and ABLE to be PRESENT to those we care for. And how can we be fully PRESENT when we are HIDING from our own AGING…how can we offer companionship when we wnat to keep our own aging self out of the room, and how can we touch the vulnerable spots in old people’s lives when we have armored our own vulnerable self with FEAR and BLINDNESS?” Nouwen speaks of “welcoming the elderly into our aging selves so we can be good hosts and healing can take place.” We will discuss how this can happen in the next blog but first I need to digest what he has already said. It makes sense that the more we can relate the more we have to give someone in the gift of truly being present to their need. We begin aging the moment we are born and my experience is the only one I can relate to but aging is a reality to every life form. To me he is saying that the age doesn’t matter but the human experience does. When I was 10 I thought 30 was ancient and I am sure the judgement started way before that. The decision is to examine the judgement and pronounce it as just that and embrace the common experience. It makes sense, what do you think?