Dotage

My good friend and neighbor from across the lane enhanced my vocabulary this morning. Our paths typically intersect en route to set out trash for Monday pickup. I look forward to these casual opportunities to swap snippets of theology and offer morsels for meditation throughout the week ahead. A handful of us gather for worship on Sunday nights in Dick’s recording studio near his house, so Monday mornings are a good occasion for reflection. Dick is essentially a philosopher who happens to also be an accomplished musician, and I enjoy when he shares with me what he’s reading at the moment, or an experience that sets him to thinking. Today, my musically inclined philosopher friend shared over trash cans a new word added to his vocabulary from his current reading. The word is “dotage.” He explained that at first he thought it had something to do with doting over someone, like a proud mother does to a cherished son, but that isn’t it at all. It holds a far more sobering meaning. Dotage is the stage of life when health, vigor, and mental faculties deteriorate (“you could live here and look after me in my dotage”). These are declining years, the autumn or even winter of one’s life.

Dick dropped this linguistic bomb then bade me farewell, leaving me to contemplate my own dotage while wearily toting garbage the remaining distance to its appointed place. For some odd reason I suddenly felt years older. Perhaps the soreness in my lower back is not merely muscle strain, it’s muscular degeneration, and the fatigue I feel isn’t caused by overwork, it’s due to deteriorating physique. Almost as suddenly a Scripture sprang to mind that arrested my mental downward spiral: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV). Oh, the wonder of the thought– fresh mercy every morning! I may be sauntering into the autumn of life or slogging unaware through aging’s winter snow, but God’s grace never tires and Christ’s mercy is always young.

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