Henri asks:  “What does caring mean when we think of the many people for whom growing old has become a way to the darkness.  What is there to say to men and women who feel forgotten and lonely, and who are approaching death as the only way to escape their misery?”  He admits there are no easy answers and points out to us that : “The painful  suffering of many old people which makes their aging a way to the darkness cannot be understood by pointing to their mistakes, weaknesses or sins.  By doing so we might avoid the realization that  the fate of many old people reflects an evil that is the evil of a society in which love has been overruled by power, and generosity by competition.”  Henri’s conclusion is that we must see our own “greedy faces” in those who have been rejected by their society.  “In the honest and painful recognition of human rejection God’s acceptance can be affirmed.”  I love Henri Nouwen’s explanation that even the victories  of one’s life do not matter as the end approaches.  I am paraphrasing, but he states is that what is needed is someone to reach out and understand with compassion and a listening ear and affirm that: “I know–you had only one life to live and it cannot be lived again, but I am here with you and I care…God’s acceptance can be felt through the gentle touch of the one who cares and allows the miserable stranger(our own fear and denial) into his own home.”  Do you have any thoughts as we reach the conclusions of Henri Nouwen’s ,”Aging”?  Have you had the privilege of bringing your own fears into the light?  Do you find yourself identifying with and connecting to someone who is obviously reaching the end of their life’s journey?  We need to know!

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