Let us not quit in old age, after so many years of working and praying, but let us plant an inward garden which cannot be taken from us. Let us plant olive trees and fig trees, a grape vineyard, roses and lilies, and even some cactuses among the rocks. Let us pull the weeds and burn them in piles, for old age is not a time of despair but of vigilance.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58: 11
Let us become a garden watered by God — our hearts and minds, perhaps our very bodies — renouncing disappointment and bitterness, repenting of our lingering dysfunctional habits, and offering the imperishable fruit of truth and the unfading beauty of mercy. We who are aged, who ourselves need help, can still represent the Church and contribute to others. We do this by renewing our old minds. If we develop a spiritual perspective on the relationships and events of the past, then we can feel gratitude for the journey and express Christ-like love in our remaining moments.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12: 2
The world demands conformity to its falsehood. Nowadays, falsehood also means to divide into irreconcilable factions, and then sin can rule in the drought and famine. Therefore, let us renew our minds into the ways of life-giving truth and mercy, such that we are built together and not separated within the same religion or scattered into the divisions of the world. Let us do this now in our old age, in whatever contact we still have with people — for we are not useless, but we grow an inward garden in this last phase of life and with the watering of God’s grace upon us.
Old age can be extremely difficult — the losses, the isolation, the deterioration, and the temptation to feel forsaken as well as to forsake. Despite these complications, let us not fail as disciples of the Christ Who was sent to save us. We might say that the elderly are the special targets of the devil — to finally conquer us at the end because we were not fully swayed in our youth or middle-age. We lived on, in trust and hope, in dedication, and our enduring faith is an offense to falsehood.
Let us turn to the saints who grew old, and to All Saints, for they might be the only family and friends available after our earthly contacts have all died before us. Let us maintain our sanity and flourish in our spirituality, and let us not begrudge any visitor or stranger who happens upon our garden.
O St. Symeon the God-receiver and St. Anna the Prophetess, you knew old age but you continued in prayer in the Temple. We implore you to strengthen us in truth and mercy, and unite us with you in the Kingdom of Heaven. O St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, you became an old woman, but you were fortified by unceasing prayer. We beseech you to make us worthy of our baptism, that we might know Heaven even while on earth. O St. Matrona of Moscow, though blind and crippled, you prayed with a pure heart and you healed others. We bring our troubles to you, for you hear us, and we ask you to meet us when we depart this life.