Helping the Aging Find God in Between Us

Helping the Aging Find God in Between Us

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries


There is a wonderful children’s book called “God in Between,” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. It is one of the few books I kept when downsizing and moving to a condo. As with most children’s books, adults would do well to read it, too.

It is the story of a windowless, roadless, overgrown town, and its people who sense something missing in their lives. People are cut off from one another, cannot watch or see anything beyond their own four walls. They sense that if they can find God (whose existence is not certain to them) they might find what they are missing. Much to their surprise they are led to discover that God (the meaning for their lives) is not missing. He, She, It, has always been present, but unseen because they are not connected to each other. They discover that God is found “In the between. In between us.”

What draws me to this story is how deeply spiritual it is, transcending religious boundaries and restrictions. It was published by Jewish Lights Publishing in 1998 and is “for people of all faiths, all backgrounds.” It speaks to the universal need of being connected to others, of the need to know we are not alone.

For Christians it is the Christmas message of Emmanuel (God with us), for Jews, it is the conviction that Yahweh (God) has led them in the past and will continue to do so in the present and the future. All major religions emphasize the community, the togetherness in which God, the Other, the Divine, the Sacred One, is found. 

As we age we lose loved ones, and leave familiar communities, we change our living arrangements to adapt to new physical and mental realities, our friends die or move further away, and as a result of all these things we sometimes seem lost. We can find ourselves again when we adapt to new situations, make new friends, and find new ways of being involved. In short, we discover the God who gives meaning to our lives when we find community, and when we forge new and meaningful relationships. 

From where I sit, this is often the most difficult task that aging people are called to take on. But I believe that they do so successfully and more gracefully when those who care for them and care about them understand the enormity of this task and offer support. 

A word of encouragement, rather than a word of criticism is one way to help. Rather than, “Mom, you know it isn’t good for you to just sit around all day,” how about, “Mom, there’s this great group downtown for people your age, would you go once or twice and try it out? I’d be glad to take you and pick you up.” Or rather than, “Dad, you need to move out of here,” how about, “My friend’s father moved a while ago to a senior living community and surprisingly loves it. He said his Dad would love to show you around his new home. Would you go for lunch someday with me and his son?”

As care givers and people who care about someone who is aging we can make a great difference in helping them discover “God in between—in between us.” And that difference begins when we understand what they are facing and face it with them as partners.

Feel free to print or share with your congregation. © 2015 Rev. James Stinson