The Clarity of Mortality
Now that I’m well into middle age, I can definitely tell that my body is wearing out. Gone is that exquisite feeling of youthful immortality and energy only to be replaced by . . . what? Wisdom, insight, maturity? Perhaps! I used to think many people turned to God, the Bible and religion as they grew old because of the feeling of death looking over their shoulder. In other words, people need a comfort as time runs out and they approach that step into the unknown. But I recently read something that changed my perspective on why we draw close to God in our latter years. It’s out of the book “Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley. I’ve included it below. I hope you enjoy it and meditate on it.
“A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeing thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existences is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false—a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.”