A Table of Quiet Strength: Thoughts on Growing Gracefully

I've been thinking about the future lately. Here i am at midlife pretty much, and my finace is even further ahead. I long so much to grow older gracefully, and settle more and more into a life that will be a blessing somehow...and hopefully at home. Several places around the blogosphere lately have been speaking of the area of older women being at home, and i'm so glad this is being looked at. Yet the general take out there seems to be this: That world at large tells us that once a woman has no (young) children at home she doesnt need to be there becuase there isnt as much "to do" there then.....and so, the typical response has been to say: well there's plenty that older (or childless) women can "do" such as volenteer their little hearts out while at home to stay nice and "busy" etc. Basically saying: see, a woman can still be Martha, still be outward productivity focused, even in her childless or later years....and therefore she has value at home. And while i'm grateful this area is finally getting more attention, sadly this typically one sided sort of view ends up leaving the rest of us kind of out in the cold, the rest of us who long to be more Mary oriented than Martha...and who can offer just as much "value" (though i don't even like that word anymore with the productivity-as-god connotations we give it) in our being at home, just in different way.

We all grow old differently. Growing older in a way that is energetic and active and busy (even if a woman is home based), well this needs no introduction really-- one can look in plently of places to find support for that. And there's nothing wrong with it of course, the world really does need Martha, she is one of our models for a good reason, went on to become a beloved Saint. But she is not the only one we can look to, we also have her sister Mary. And so what still bothers me is that the busy Martha-ish way is seen as the way by many, what gives value to a woman when it comes down to it, including in this area of older woman being at home. Sure, folks will give their nod to the value of a few more contemplative Mary-ish things things in life, but thats not the same as them being the bigger focus.

There is more than just a "productivity contest" way of being at home, at whatever age. And a gift of growing older can be that one calms more, slows down more, grows in wisdom and peace and presence. An older woman's home may deepen in peace and prayer, and its slower pace and more intimate communion help calm those around her. The same might be true of her person, maybe it too has slowed and calmed and deepened in spirit and is a warm and welcoming place to turn to for wisdom or comfort for those around her. The world truly does need women like this, women with this sort of thing as thier deeper focus, not as a mere sidenote like it is for the busyness oriented Marthas of the world. Just a nod/small focus on these more subtle things cannot bring these things to as deep a place, and the world truly needs them. We need Mary. We need Marthas and Marys both, and yet we expect most everyone to be Martha when it comes down to it to be "worth" anything.

I think thats why i was moved by a movie seen recently, the 1938 film "The Young in Heart". It showed growing older gracefully in a bit more Mary-like way. I am feeling more and more a deep longing for such models...

Well, Good Shabbas All
And Blessed Sabbath : )

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