When I am recycled ( old)


As a relatively young Iona Community Member, I used to look, some years ago, at the beautiful old men and women of the Iona Community, grown beautiful through struggles for justice, and think it would be good to be like that as time went on. In the last couple of weeks, a number of folks have asked about the place of older generations at this time: like all else, it’s time for boring ideas to be recycled and repurposed: there’s an unprecedented scope for a closeness of activist elders with motivated youth, and mutual encouragement, as we also help churches move beyond the ‘gospel of niceness training’ and enjoy the freedom of the powerless, set within God’s grace.

When I am old
I shall wear green, or maybe camo
the stuff that make them wonder whether I’m here
to kill or conserve.

I will rejoice in my patches, join the teens in frayed trousers.
And use each garment as a library of stories
like the wrinkles on my body, of which I am proud.

I shall indulge in what makes me more mischievous
and not be over-awed by people who knew better
back when I was young..

I shall have a good time. A good life, measured by happiness
not just by money.

I shall take my time with travel, cycle with a tailback of BMWs.

I will stop and say hello
to the places I pass through.
And all the creatures. Applauding the birds.

when I go to church I shall make a nuisance of myself
when someone tries to serve unfair coffee in plastic cups
And never let my silence be taken as assent.

I shall make up for the ridiculous obedience and common sense
and all the “yes but we have to’s
and my fear of upsetting the status quo
And find it gleefully liberating.

I will pile up plastic and dump it in the outlets that sell it.
And get away with it, because I’m old, and they’d look bad
to pursue me.

And claim nonetheless the right to the wisdom of age
The right to bless the young

Maybe I’m old enough already.
Because the planet is already hurting
And it’s my home as much as it is for the young
And the home of other life
As well as those who look – a bit – like me

Oh. And learn to spit.
Mustn’t miss out!


with thanks to Jenny Joseph.

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