Embracing Life Fully—However It Comes

Embracing Life Fully—However It Comes

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries


“Sitting full in the moment, I practiced on the God-awful difficulty of just paying attention.  It’s a contention of Heat Moon’s—believing as he does any traveler who misses the journey misses all he’s going to get—that a man becomes his attentions.”

This is from a delightful book, “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat-Moon, published in 1983. The book details his observations of people and places as he travels the perimeter of the United States, always on the back roads, almost never on an interstate. It is filled with poignant observations of the human scene, up close and personal.

It was suggested by a parishioner Paul, who is in his 90s and still creatively living his life.  He paints, make signs for our church, and like most people his age deals with the sometime difficult realities of aging, praying and reflecting. He, it seems to me, is still on a journey intending to learn as he goes and to experience life no matter the situation.

He, and so many others like him, women and men alike, lead me to believe the secret to full life lies in faithfully embracing living it fully, paying attention (as it were) to all that is there. The good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the joys and the sorrows, all have much to teach. And we miss so much of the journey when we neglect the art of “sitting full in the moment”—knowing that the journey, wherever it is leading us, is all important.

I am still slowly and deliberately reading this book, so as not to miss any of the insights it is offering.  Already I see solid implications for navigating my aging process, as well as in how to more effectively minister with those who, in their waning years, seem to be missing so much of their own journeys. Often there is a preoccupation with things that are going wrong, as the body becomes less efficient than it was once, as the memory becomes less sharp and so on. Often I see them dwell in the past rather than sit full in the moment. 

Our ministry, lay and clergy, enriches others when we encourage in ways that help process the necessary care for what is not working as it once did, even while always bringing us back to a focus on the “what is” and what role we may still play in it. We need to help others find the fullness of life to which we, and they, have been called.

How we do that varies from place to place, and time to time, but it’s not optional if older adult ministry is to happen on the deepest level. If they, if we, miss the journey, the promise of fullness is less than fulfilled.