Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy 100!

This is my one hundredth post - which gets me thinking about a not-so-favorite topic of mine right now: age.

According to Allure magazine (I read it as I got my haircut) the ideal age for women is 36. One reason? That's how old Marilyn Monroe was when she sang to President Kennedy. Apparently that's the high point we should be aiming for...

Still it had me breathing a sigh of relief (I'm 35 - the best is yet to come.). But what happens at 37 - over the hill then?

Oh, I realize this age anxiety stuff is as old as the hills (and some of them are really old!) but it's hitting me somewhere in the gut right now. As a colleague in her early 40s pointed out - somewhere in our mid-thirties women pastors go from being young, hip and interesting to being outdated and irrelevant. I refuse to let that happen! There's got to be something in the middle.

I wish I could get out of the age obsession I seem to be in now, but I find myself single minded. And its not only related to the old biological clock - thought that carries a bit of power.

Elena Kagan got nominated for Supreme Court and I skipped the parts of the article about her background, beliefs, influence. What I wanted to know first is her age (50). I heard a speaker last week and while she was a font of knowledge and spiritual wisdom, the thing I'll remember most is her age (45).

I even asked my congregation in church last Sunday to raise their hands if they were over 38. Granted, there was a good preaching rationale for this, but really, how much has this age thing gotten into my brain?!

This is actually nothing new for me, thought it's particularly powerful right now. As a small kid I was acutely aware that I was younger than everyone else in my class. Age has always been a big part of my identity.

Maybe that's why I fell in love with the Dylan song Forever Young. I remember where I was when I first heard it - in a muddy field outside of Duluth Minnesota. But eternal youth isn't the appeal. More, I like the message that we can live in a way that age has no ultimate say in our identity. Dreams can take root no matter your age. Maybe that's why the movie UP was such a success - it debunked the fear that as we age, we slowly fade into boring irrelevance.

So what's the opposite of age-obsessed? Something about eternal life.

Jesus preaches about how it can happen now. Maybe a sliver of that promise is that in an age obsessed world, God's grace cuts through the apparent limits of age and death. This is an offer to embrace eternal life in the here and now and give age a bit less power. To get there today, I'll just hunker down and listen to the gospel according to Bob Dylan:
May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young


  1. Pastor Sarah, You will always be young, hip, and interesting. I canot imagine you as ever being outdated and irrelevant! Worry not, it is not going to happen to you. You are much too vivacious for that! God's blessings.
    Anna Ray in Rural Retreat

  2. I get this...this makes sense so much to me in the place I am right now. It's the whole not feeling quite settled thing...not unhappy, just not quite able to live fully in the anxiousness for the next thing..

  3. Great post, sarah. I've also been a bit age-obsessed lately: as you know, I recently turned 40. On that momentous occasion I found myself thinking about the 40th psalm (and about the U2 song it inspired, "40," from the War album.) I'm 40? Why, I will sing a new song!


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