The LaLeche League division of the AARP (Genesis 21)
“And Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.’ And she said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’ And the child grew and was weaned.”
When I was in my thirties, I didn’t understand all the wrinkle cream ads. I thought older women were beautiful--that the lines on their faces made them interesting. But as I’ve grown into my mid forties, I’ve realized that there’s more to aging than charming little crow’s feet around my eyes. The skin around my mouth is changing, growing heavy, and often my expression looks tired or angry when I’m not.
It can be a little distressing to look in a mirror and see a reflection that doesn’t show my true heart. The stress of the past few years is visible in my countenance.
Yesterday I bought my first pair of reading glasses. They were just 1.0 in strength, the lowest possible lenses. But still, there was something about that purchase which marked a definite transition.
A couple of older folks watched me trying them on in the grocery, trying to read the back of a Pepto bottle (the closest label I could find), and they chuckled. Clearly, I was new at this. One kind older man reached out and told me he remembered his first pair of reading glasses, and he told me a couple of those medical stories you often hear grey-heads telling a little too loudly in public.
It was an initiation. I was in the club now. He was showing me how to laugh at my body as it ages, modeling the humor that maximizes the latter years.
The jokes older people tell aren’t always what young people would consider “nice.” Jokes about the bathroom. Jokes about the bedroom. Jokes about colonoscopies. Jokes about parts of your body withering away and yielding to gravity. Yet the sort of bodily humor that hits in the second half of life isn’t sexual so much as confessional—there's usually an “all is vanity” punch line reminiscent of Ecclesiastes.
That’s the sort of punch line feel when I read Sarah’s statement, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?”
I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a medical diagram of the breasts of a 99-year-old woman, but if you have, you’ll understand why nursing a child wouldn’t be the first possibility that comes to mind. Yet these dry and fallen breasts would fill up with milk, filling the belly of an impossible promised child until he is weaned.
It's the sort of story that would make a couple of old folks chuckle in the reading glasses aisle of the grocery. “Did you hear about old Sarah?”
Yes, we’ll give that image a laugh—and for just a moment or two, we will let the levity of the presence of a comedic God fill us with hope that such a winsome Lord might also revive our own dry and cranky bones for the work of another day.