Sunday, February 24, 2013

Advanced Style, Advanced Substance...

While recovering from pneumonia, I have had the pleasure of perusing Ari Seth Cohen's lovely blog, Advanced Style.  He takes photographs of interesting and stylish older women (and men), and he often adds quotes from their wisdom or little glimpses of their life stories.  Most of these are people he meets on the streets of New York, but he also finds chic elders in other cities and countries, as well.

It seems to me that the women of Advanced Style along two sartorial lines.  There is a continuum of women who favor boho/funky to wildly glamorous style expression and a continuum from nicely pulled together to classic to quite elegant in their presented.  My favorites fall in the last category, though, that of course, is a matter of personal taste.  My absolute favorite is this sparkly, spunky 101 year old named Ruth.  Ruth was just featured in a Pilates magazine -- Yes! at 101 years old. 

Apparently, some of the women that Mr. Cohen meets are surprised that anyone would want to photograph them at their age.  Others have expressed gratitude that Mr. Cohen sees them, as older people -- especially women -- often feel invisible in our society.  Kudos to Mr. Cohen for having the eyes to see the beauty in people of advancing years.

That makes me think how God sees us as we age.  I'm not in the Advanced Style age group yet, but I'm close enough that I feel the passing of time.  It means a lot to me that the Lord sees and loves us through this time in our life. Last night, as I was lying awake, having issues with breathing, so many verses about this came alive to me.

I love that God shows us in Proverbs 31 that his love for us transcends how we look or how old we are or any other circumstance of our life.  He says, "Beauty is fleeting and charm is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." It's our relationship to him that the Lord values; it's the substance of us and not the style of us.  And, even beyond our substance, which on our own is frail and sinful and corrupted, he loves because he is love and chooses to love us.  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Romans 5:8.  Isn't that wonderful?

One beautiful example of how God sees and works through the aged is Anna, the prophetess. She is someone who could have felt alone and forgotten, but she devoted herself to the Lord.  In her old age, she was privileged to see the newborn Messiah and to proclaim him.  She came up to Mary and Joesph and Jesus just as Simeon, who as also aged, had recognized Jesus.  Here's her story:
"There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."  Luke 2:36-38.  

What did Anna look like?  How did she dress?  We don't know.  We do know that, though God, she got to be part of the most profound events in all of history, and this was at the age of eighty plus.  She was able to see and to know Jesus.  God holds out to every one of us the chance to have this deep, everlasting, intimate relationship with Christ. (Acts 2:38)  When that is in place, our human relationships become more deeply connected, as well, and we have fellowship with God and others.  When we obey God, his love is made complete in us.  Our current bodies will change with time, but we can rest in peace that our hearts are held in the Lord's hands.  I John Chapters One and Two  

Do we truly grow insignificant as we age?  Never!  



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