Friday, 8 May 2009

Aged to Perfection

I was officiating at a funeral. There, at the graveside, was an elderly man wearing a T-shirt on which was inscribed ‘Aged to Perfection.’ How I longed to turn him round to see if anything was displayed on the back of his shirt! Propriety made this impossible.

So I speculated. Wines, spirits and cheeses mature with time. They age to perfection. Could this be said of us human beings - indeed, of myself? Surely, this ought to be the case. But I wonder. I am no longer a spring chicken. Some would describe me as an old bird. I can detect a ‘peaking’ some time back and then a gradual decline. Up to a point, fruit ages to perfection, to perfect ripeness. Beyond this it gradually goes into decay.

Physically, it’s the same thing with us. After a certain stage we don’t run faster, jump higher, get stronger. We are grateful if we are still mobile and fairly self-sufficient. We regret having less energy. All the same, there is an ageing, which is a progress towards a kind of perfection. Experience has enriched us. We have gradually come to terms with our limitations, our failures, even our sinfulness. And to be more positive, we have had the satisfaction of recognizing that we have had our uses and that even now we are not totally useless! We mature as we find we are able both to celebrate joyful events and to cope with sorrowful ones. This is how it should be, with the vagaries of life seasoning us, not hardening us; mellowing us, not embittering us. I wish it always happened like this. I know, you know, there have been times when it has been far, far from this. And there will be such times in the future.

We have ‘Aged to Perfection’ if in the last chapters of our lives we remain intent on sharing with God our very selves and all that life offers us; if we still find ourselves continuously eager to accept and do His will. Time alone affords the joy and consolation of knowing what it means to live in lasting friendship with God – the serenity of knowing that He has always been there with us. We haven’t become tired of our relationship with God, nor bored with this. What there is between ourselves and God has acquired a comfortable familiarity about it. Dare I suggest we have aged into God?

By the way, the slogan on the old man’s shirt referred to a popular brand of Caribbean rum. On the back of his shirt was a picture of a bottle of this golden liquid. Inscribed on the label was, ‘Aged to Perfection.’ How I delight to compare my spiritual maturing to that of this sublime spirit! Surely an impish spirit caused me to find mywaygodsway to all these rambling thoughts at the graveside, of all places! Could the Holy Spirit be described as being impish?

Peter Clarke O.P.

Next week Peter will meet God in a ‘Striking Invention’

1 comment:

  1. Fr.Peter, you're very amusing and inspiring. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your rambling thoughts and I do think the Holy Spirit has a great sense of humour. In fact, very impish indeed! Thank you for helping me to relax!