Posted by: Mark Nielsen | May 13, 2009

Of Hubbles and Nuns: Respect for Our Elders

 “Gettin’ old”… (Paul Simon’s views  on the matter…)

The Hubble Telescope: The Grand Old Man of the nearby heavens.
The Hubble Telescope: The Grand Old Man of the nearby heavens.

Shuttle to make big catch in space

The space shuttle Atlantis has caught up to Hubble. Later today, the crew will use the shuttle’s robot arm to hook the giant space telescope and place it in the cargo bay for repairs. Five spacewalks are planned to make upgrades to extend Hubble’s lifespan through at least 2014.

Aging and hospitality seem to be the theme of the day: the ways in which we are called not only to provide for and honor our elders, but also to repair and continue the good work that they began on our behalf. People, or useful technologies, or great art and architecture, should not be discarded when their “usefulness” has been altered by time. In a shortsighted, “throwaway” society, they/we still have a place in this world, and in God’s kingdom.

We are kept in Gods orbit by such as these, our prayerful elders.
We are kept in God’s orbit by such as these, our prayerful elders.
My wife and I had a hard but good talk last night with some friends of ours, an older couple around my parents age. They are facing some health concerns, though they still have lots of life left in them that they want to live, and they are still a great support to their children and grandchildren. (Even as the kids are also a support to the seniors.)
Then this morning, I picked up Kathleen Norris’  The Cloister Walk again, and read this, from the mind of Mechtild of Magdeburg, a groundbreaking (but at the time ag’ed) nun long ago:
“Lord, I thank Thee that since thou hast taken from me the power of my hands… and the power of my heart, Thou now servest me with the hands and hearts of others.”
Amen, sister! Let’s help God to take care of our elders, who instructed us about the stars and nebulas, and took care of us when we were young, curious and vulnerable.

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