Reflections on Aging Well

Author, Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room) and Columnist, Aging Well, United Methodist Reporter

Unchurched older adults: an unexpected outreach? July 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 1:01 pm

Every Tuesday, I spend the day with residents of the senior care center where my parents lived for several years.  Yesterday, I had lunch with my parents’ former neighbor, a 95-year old widow.  She’s a spunky lady whose mind is amazingly sharp even though her body is wearing out.        

We had pleasant conversation about the hot weather and a new pair of earrings. Then just as I took a bite of dessert, my elderly friend blurted out something that almost made me choke. “Could you get me one of those Do Not Resuscitate forms so that I can tape it to the headboard of my bed?”

I swallowed hard.  Even with the grin on her face, my friend was serious.  She is a no-nonsense woman of deep faith who talks easily about death and dying.  

When I got home, I printed a copy of the Do Not Resuscitate order for our state.  Then I called to let her know that I had put it in the mail.  She cheerily thanked me as if I had just delivered her a cherry pie.

It was a moment that was oddly sweet.  A moment that pointed me to a bigger faith issue.

I started thinking about the many unchurched elderly in care facilities or at home alone.  I wondered how many of them were wrestling with deep spiritual questions about life and death in the loneliness of their rooms.  In the darkness of their nights.  I wondered how many were alone, with no believers to walk alongside and encourage them.  

And so I pray that the church will reach out to those who are nearing the end of life’s journey.  May we be the hands of Christ that steady a stooped body.  May we be the smile that uplifts a wilted spirit.  Let us not pass by those who are frail and yet unchurched.  We are called for such a time as this.



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