Getting ready for church this morning brings up the old age dilemma: Am I the one who should give the help or am I the one who needs the help.
I try to be helpful in church by staying out of the way of our pastors. I’m the kind of old person I always loved when I was a preacher: I come to worship, give a lot [relatively] of money, keep my mouth shut about the pastor’s many deficiencies, am friendly to newcomers and invite others to come. I occasionally do something to help out with the church’s work, especially if it can be done in secret, like sneaking into the church building without being noticed and loading up the food from Backpack Buddies Sunday and taking it to the Community Kitchen.
My old friend, Father Joe Dooley, always recited the priestly litany for Catholics: pray, pay, and obey. That describes me now that I am a “regular” church member. The perfect church member.
Well, not completely perfect. When I was a pastor, I also wanted old people, if they still had a modicum of energy in brain and body, to work on committees. That is probably the unforgivable sin. That’s where my perfection ends. You can’t be invisible if you are on a committee. You can’t be saved, either.
The problem for old people is this: as we get more decrepit, we really need more attention. We need to be willing to accept it, even ask for it when necessary. But that gets in the way, calls attention to us, makes people do stuff for us. That doesn’t feel right.
I used to park as far away from the door as I could, in any parking lot, in order to leave closer spots for folks who could not walk as well as I. Now when Helen is having one of her leg-problem days or I’m especially tipsy [just speaking gyroscopically, not alcoholically], I park as close to the door as I can get. It feels wrong, but it’s necessary. It’s embarrassing to take a good spot when you look as young as I do, so I intentionally stagger around when I get out of the car, even though I don’t need to, so that people will know I really need to park close. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.