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Discovering The Meaning At The Twilight Of Life

I am an old man now, I have lived a long time, But I have never seen a good man abandoned by the Lord Or his children begging for food. At all times he gives freely and lends to others And his children are a blessing. Psalm 37:25-26

There is a growing number of the elderly, in our country and in the rest of the world, who need not only material care but also emotional and spiritual upliftment. More than the young or the busy adults, it is they who experience the so-called “emptiness” and “strangeness of being”.

It is they who, being at the twilight of their lives, are more prone to self-questioning. “Why am I here?” “Why are all these things happening to me?” “Have I lived rightly?” “Is this all there is to life?” And finding no answers, lapse into depression, enslaved by painful pasts, envy, loneliness, guilt, anxiety, stress, worst of all, a feeling of emptiness.

Aging cannot be postponed. Twilight comes as surely as the dawn. In elderly people, the onslaught of old age (and the inner confusion it brings) is sometimes compounded by another tragedy - their own families abandon them.

And yet the twilight years should not be this way. Many elderly people retain wisdom and are worthy of emulation. Many remain altruistic, desiring to contribute to society so that it can be improved for their children and grandchildren.

For us at HOLD (Handmaids of the Lord), these insights have greater meaning. Many of us have incomplete families , many of us are approaching twilight years, many of us duelled with problems a lot of people cannot even begin to comprehend. And yet, being at HOLD, we call ourselves lucky. We have found peace in our lives, in our inner selves, with our families but most of all, we have found a friend in Jesus. It is a blessing we want to share with others.

It was this desire to share God's grace that led us HOLD members to the Golden Acres compound in Quezon City, also known as a home for the aged.

Before conducting a CLP (Christian Life Program), we wanted to get to know the elderly housed there much better. We had a series of visits to the place, talking to the “lolas” (as they are fondly called ,meaning grandma),but mostly listening to them. We wanted to personally invite them to the coming CLP.

What a difference our time with them made! The lolas began to feel a sense of importance, of belonging and of being loved. It was a source of wonder to them that someone remembered their names and cared enough about them.

The elders live in cottages named after female saints. They are grouped together according to their physical condition - the able, the semi-able and the senile. They range in age from 60 to 100.

With the help of the house parent the social worker, we finally identified Sta. Rita Cottage as the venue for the CLP. This cottage housed the most number of “able lolas”, able meaning capable of taking care of themselves physically and not needing extra or special physical or medical attention.

Sta. Rita had 38 residents, 26 of whom were normal, 1 blind, 4 deaf, 1 lame, 3 who could understand only their native dialect, 2 senile, and 1 retarded. Holding a CLP for such a group was a daunting prospect. Some of the HOLD service team understandably experienced anxiety and doubts about their ability to serve.

The message given to them through 2 Corinthians 9:12-15 enlightened everyone and gave them greater determination to serve and to help the lolas know and love Jesus.

For this service you perform not only meets the needs of Gods people but also produces an outpouring of gratitude to God. And because of the proof which this service of yours brings, many will give glory to God for your loyalty to the gospel of Christ which you profess and for your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else. And so with deep affection they will pray for you because of the extraordinary grace God has shown you.

It was a tough CLP. The participants were full of pain, hurts, depression and loneliness. The task was difficult but fulfilling. The power of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Father turned obstacles into inspiration.

Everyone, including the deaf, the blind and the senile, were able to attend. They felt the warmth of the facilitators' love, even if it was only through the sense of touch.

The spiritual renewal the lolas received from the CLP produced many positive results. As the house parent shared, those with serious differences with others became friends, communication problems were resolved. Most rewarding of all, the faces of the lolas now shone with peace. Bel Salta

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