THE NEW IN THE OLD
“A childless woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life!” (End of Kontakion or hymn of the Nativity of the Mother of God)
Today we celebrate the Nativity of the Mother of God according to the Old(er) Calendar, so I’m once again thinking about Sts. Joachim and Anna, Her elderly parents. They fervently prayed for a child for decades, but it was only very late in life that God granted them what they had been praying for, and a hitherto “childless woman gave birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life.”
Aside from the rare, biblical instances of elderly women giving birth, the later stages of life do present us with new opportunities, particularly with regard to our growth in God. While we might face the difficulties of forgetfulness, loneliness, depression, and various physical ailments, we also develop a willingness, in faith, to look death (and life) in the face. Our hearts open as they never opened before, in gratitude and humility before God and other people. I continuously observe this phenomenon, this very nourishing phenomenon of the open heart, in elderly people of faith.
Today, as we celebrate the birth of “the nourisher of our life,” the Mother of God, to an elderly woman, I am gratefully reminded of the nourishing presence of elderly friends and relatives in my life. Glory be to God for revealing Himself in ever-new ways, in every stage of our lives.