• Randy Karlberg
Old kettle

The word “patina” is an interesting word.  The definition from Webster’s is: “A usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure of artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color.”  The green that naturally comes upon copper when it is oxidized for a long period of time is quite striking compared to the gold-orange hue of copper in its younger state.  One of the reasons for the use of copper is because the green contrast that comes is so striking and pleasing to the eye.  Some people resort to an acidic treatment of copper to expedite the process in order to achieve this desired result.  This aging process of copper can actually add value to the original material. 

When I think of patina I am drawn to an item that has been in our family for three generations.  It is an old copper tea kettle from Sweden that was a wedding gift to my paternal grandparents in 1923.  And true to form, it regularly turns the greenish tint in increasing amounts depending on the time between polishing.  I can remember my Mom fervently polishing it to remove this invasive green to restore it to its younger state.  It was not an easy process.  However, now I am realizing that many people actually desire to have the patina present and take great pleasure in the contrast it brings.  That and the fact that it is very close to 100 years old have done nothing but increase the value of this item in my eyes. (Yes, I have been known to be a sentimental type.) 

But it is this idea that I want to have us look at.  There are many things in our society that gain value with age.  But regrettably, humans being valued as they grow older tends not to be one of them.  Just look at all of the products and schemes that promise youth and vitality to an aging population.  The promise of reversing the natural aging process has been a platform for charlatans and scientists alike through the decades.  And why is this?  Well, we all know.  It is because we long for the energy and vivaciousness of our youth.  But most of us would not want to return and take on the difficult life lessons that accompany a person’s youth.  There really are many advantages to having more birthdays than a junior higher.  I mean look, the term “sophomore” comes from the term “sophomoric” right?  

Let’s look at how the Bible speaks regarding aging and old age.  Contrary to modern thought, the Bible never speaks to aging in a negative tone.  Just the opposite, in fact, there is consistent reference to the process of growing old.  There are also some verses that speak to those who are unwise, having a shortened life.  This, obviously, leads one to believe that old age is in part due to living a wise life.  Here are two verses that speak to the Godly wisdom found through this wisdom by honoring your parents.  Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”  Then in the New Testament, we hear the echo of these precious words.  Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’”  Parents are a gift to us from God.  Honoring and obeying them in the Lord is not just a commandment from God, but it looks to bring about long life on the earth for those who observe this path.  The clear message to each of us, regardless of our age, is to honor our parents because of our love for the Lord.  This Biblical wisdom is being spoken against in so many areas of our culture, even through seemingly benign modes such as children’s cartoons and TV shows.  The parents are often typecast as not really knowing what is going on, thus creating a barrier between children and their parents.    

So how does the Bible speak to those of us who are, “growing old gracefully?”  Biblically speaking aging is not a process to be at enmity with but rather to be embraced.  Proverbs 16:31 states, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”  The result of living a righteous life is having the crown of gray hair.  Obviously, this is not a principle that is without exception.  We all can come up with a gray-haired person who has definitely not lived a “righteous life.”  Still, the Biblical belief stands the tests of generations.  The blessings that maturity brings are so abundant we must really not minimize their value.  As people grow older they have a view on life that coincides with the value found in the patina process.  

It is rare for a person in today’s society to embrace their aging with respect and appreciation for all that God has taught them through the attainment of gray hair.  Some people are cheating by dying their hair gray without going through the gauntlet of life lessons.  Honestly, as a member of society that has a good deal of snow on my own roof, I do not understand this desire.  It will come in due time my friends!  If we are going to approach aging as is conveyed in Scripture we must renew our modern conclusions regarding the maturing process.  The blessings of wisdom far outweigh the challenges of physical deterioration.  We are commanded to “teach” our children and our children’s children those lessons that God has granted to us through a long life on this earth.  We must realize the value of patina on our bodies and more importantly our mind and soul go through as we travel through this process called aging.  Be diligent to respectfully speak Godly wisdom that He has granted you.  This will not come without thoughtfully accepting aging and not condemning it, as is so common.  May you embrace this path that God has you on with steadfastness and peace for the future promises of God toward His people.  And may you finish well the lighter follicle days God grants you!