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TO BE ALIVE means to be supple and flexible. Hardening kills, not only arteries but also flowers and even trees. Youth is flexible, but old age, that inexorable decline toward death, brings more and more stiffness. It is a stiffness not only of the knees and the back but of thoughts and attitudes. None of this is necessary.

I know a seventy-year-old man who goes to the gym three times a week and takes ballet class twice a week. His body is like that of a young man, and his attitude toward life is free and joyful. Do you think that all this exercise affects his mental attitude? I do.

How do we keep our minds supple? One way is to be in the uncritical presence of young people. Of course they are sometimes annoying, didactic, and arrogant. But the openness of their attitute is what we want.

The winds of change can be stimulating. But there are also earthquakes in all our lives, seismic tremors that we become much more vulnerable to if we respond with stiffness and resistance. We can swing with the sway or we can tumble down. How satisfied will we then be with our unyielding stance?

Life Meditations By Edward J Lavin SJ

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