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I may look old...

Thursday, April 29, 2021

On April 29, 1941, a young woman named Lorna gave birth to a baby boy.  Me. 

She often told people that the first thing I did was to glare at her, as if to say, “Look what you put me through!”  To which she replied, “What do you mean, look what I put you through!?  Look what you put me through!”

Another thing my mother often said was, “Tony was born at forty.”  When I was born, she had just turned twenty-five, so this would have made me considerably older than her, from the get-go.  And, if I really was forty on the day of my birth, then today, which is technically my eightieth birthday, I should now be one hundred and twenty years old!

But, you know, maybe I really was “born at forty”  and simply stayed forty years old for the next eighty years!  Certainly, most days I feel like I’m just forty… that is, until I look in the mirror and see an elderly geezer, who is more like my grandfather than like a comparatively young adult!

Still, I feel reasonably fit, hale, and hearty.

Text that says, 'I may look old, yet I am strong and lusty'

Many years ago, I came across a T-shirt with the quote that you can see here, from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”  In Act 2, Scene 3 of the play, the character, Adam, says, “Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty.”  I loved the shirt, and immediately bought it.  It would get worn under my clergy shirt, as a sort of private message to myself.

By co-incidence, many, many years ago, I found my spiritual devotions turning again and again to Psalm 103 – in the version that may be found in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.  It is a beautiful psalm centering on God’s love, forgiveness, and parental care for us, and ending with a universe of praise.  But its first lines include these words: “…who forgiveth all thy sin, and healeth all thine infirmities; who saveth thy life from destruction, and crowneth thee with mercy and loving-kindness; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, making thee young, and lusty as an eagle.”  1

Note the word, “lusty.”  In both the Shakespeare and in that particular version of the psalm, the word has no sexual overtones.  In 16th Century English it just means “strong,”  and “vigorous.”  But I always liked the implication of intense energy in it, and thus these two lines became somewhat of a motto for my life.

So, Praise the Lord, I’m now eighty years old, and still quite “young and lusty.”  So I think I’ll hang around in this world a while longer.  Who knows, maybe there is still some good that I can do!

Tony's signature


1  The much more common translation, dating right back to the ‘King James Version’ of the Bible, is, “your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  But I used the Canadian Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1962) for my daily prayers, and this was the version most familiar to me!  The translation of the psalms, printed in that prayerbook, is that of Miles Coverdale, who translated the Bible in the 1530s, seventy years before the King James Version came out.
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