Why do we look so unkindly upon wrinkles? Why are wrinkles seen as less desirable than a “less-wrinkled” face? What’s up with being so concerned with “the signs of aging?”
I am enamored by the character lines on a person’s face. One of the most beautiful faces I’ve ever seen (in a photograph) belonged to Mother Theresa. The stories her face tell coupled with her child-like-wonder-and-awe eyes leaves me with a feeling that is hard to capture in words. The closest I can get would be: warmth, tenderness, compassion; strength; wisdom; a life-fully-lived.
Lately, I’ve added a “breath prayer” to prelude my morning meditation. A “breath prayer” is basically a request to one’s Divine/God/Higher power. Mine goes a little something like this: Today, use me to bring love, hope, comfort and peace to the world.
When I look at the wrinkled face of Mother Theresa, I joyfully wonder if perhaps her “breath prayer” wasn’t something similar but included the phrase “Today, use me up, to bring love, hope, comfort and peace to the world.
Use me up.
The way I see it…which is often not the same way much of our advertising, thing-driven culture sees it…wrinkles are a status symbol. They suggest a life of intention, focus and drive…a life that hasn’t had time to ponder whether wrinkles should or should not be upon the face. Wrinkles suggest a kind of “using up” of the body and the unveiling of the spirit beneath. I am speaking my absolute truth, when I say that I find an aged body as beautiful as that of a younger person. Neither is more or less than the other…they are just different.
Our cultural obsession with youth leads me to question why we are so afraid of not being youthful? I’m certain that a good deal of our fear of aging is the fear of becoming less sexually attractive, which is, where many women garner their power and sadly what many women consider as their only source of power.
Several years ago, I was walking with a young girl in our program. It was the last day of our Girls on the Run experience together. Her name is Madeline. She must have been about 9 years old at the time of our conversation.
“How is it Madeline, that you and I ended up together?” I asked. “What’s that all about?”
Madeline paused for only a second or two and then responded with the confidence of a person much older (and wiser) than her years would suggest.
“Well, you see it’s like this,” she said. “God has an idea…but he has a problem! He needs to get the idea down to earth. So what he does…is wrap a body around the idea so it can be sent here to be born. Now the ideas inside are all really great and all really big and sometimes they are so big, it might take lots of bodies to come together to get the really big idea out.
And that is, of course, how you get your gifts and talents. They are God’s tools to help you get the idea from inside of your body out…before your body dies.”
This is, without question, the most profound explanation, I’ve heard for the connection between our human and spiritual selves. I believe Madeline nailed it!
What Madeline suggests here…is what I’ve instinctivelly known since I was a little girl. There is something, the me, the what, the essence riding around inside of this body…and in order for it to shine, radiate and be its greatest potential, i should care for and treat my body with respect…so that the essence of me isn’t distracted by an unhealthy body, but is instead working in loving unison with it.
The care required is quite simple really…eat well and move a little bit every day. It is, I believe, when we are overly distracted by the body–illness caused from lack of care or an obsession with our body’s appearance–when we’ve lost the balance, as Madeline has portrayed here so beautifully, between our human and spiritual experience. Both are necessary, but an over emphasis/obsession on either, can at least from my view, keep us from fully experiencing this opportunity we’ve been given…this opportunity we call life…human and spirit intimately woven together
Why do you think we are afraid of aging? What do wrinkles say to you? How do you explain the dance between our human and spiritual selves? Join in, won’t you?