Rev. Paul John Roach,
a native of Wales,
has been the minister
at Unity of Fort
Worth since 1988.
He also hosts the
World Spirituality on
Unity Online Radio
Rev. Roach is currently
writing a book on the
spiritual path in 12 rock
songs. For links to his
podcasts and blog, visit
In Unity, we like the new. We talk about releasing
old ideas and claiming new ones. It is no
coincidence that our larger spiritual affiliation
is called New Thought. In Revelation 21: 5, the
Cosmic Christ declares, “See, I am making all
Our wider world also likes the new and
associates it with being shiny, fresh, and
youthful. After all, who doesn’t love a newborn
baby? Society encourages us to stay forever
young and views being old as saggy, ugly, and
closer to death. Far from being associated with
accumulated wisdom and insight, where elders
are admired guides to the young, aging is seen
as an unfortunate decline, a physical and mental
diminishing of power and influence.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. All
of us age, but we don’t have to get old. We
can experience new insights and awareness
and do new things to keep us vibrantly alive.
Empowered aging means staying young at heart,
open-minded, and teachable while at the same
time making use of the wisdom we’ve acquired
throughout our lifetime. It means skillfully
tending our physical being and making a
conscious choice to avoid buying into stereotypes.
To successfully age, we need to activate an
attitude of lively, centered optimism.
It is a truism that we move in the direction
of our dreams. Staying devoted and engaged to
something, no matter what it is, gives us meaning
and direction. My uncle Maurice died earlier this
year at 83 years old. As next of kin, I (along with
my wife) spent two weeks in his hometown of
Cardiff, Wales, going through his papers, cleaning
up his apartment, and meeting some of his friends.
Although he was severely challenged with
physical ailments for several years, he continued to
stay engaged. He read widely, wrote journals, and
had friends who took him for rides in the Welsh
countryside and for meals in nearby towns and
villages. He followed the news, did crafts, and kept
up with his interests. We found scrapbooks full
of information that fascinated him. Until the very
end of his life, he took a daily walk to the local
supermarket for supplies.
It is obvious to me that his devotion to these
apparently simple tasks gave his life a certain
passion and meaning that propelled him forward,
even through hard times. I brought home two
large boxes of his journals and photographs and
look forward to deepening my connection to this
man who influenced my early life.
Another thing that empowers us (increasingly so
as we age) is our ability to monitor the words and
thoughts we generate about ourselves, our world,
and our role in it. Rather than harboring regret or
lamenting our diminished abilities, we can make it
a practice to be thankful for all we have and utilize
our attributes in joyous ways. For example, we can
take a walk (even if it’s short), work on a puzzle,
stay in touch with family and friends, and follow a
passion that enlivens our souls.
In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus advises, “Be
passersby.” Of the many interpretations we could
ascribe to that saying, one would be to avoid
getting attached. Successful aging involves a
willingness to change and not stay set in our ways.
We can detach from our chairs, too, and get up
and do something, even if we initially don’t want
to do it. Physicians insist that patients who have
had surgery walk the hallways as soon as possible
because activity aids healing.
I have just reached the milestone year of 65.
My empowered aging agenda involves gardening,
walking, writing, and travel. I plan to continue
leading my spiritual community, Unity of Fort
Worth. I choose to give life a light touch and
stay buoyant even in dark times. And when I
am reluctant or tired, I have a high-energy dog
who takes me for twice-daily walks around the
neighborhood. I thank him for that!
WE CAN MAKE IT A PRACTICE
TO BE THANKFUL FOR ALL
WE HAVE AND UTILIZE OUR
ATTRIBUTES IN JOYOUS WAYS.
INVOLVES A WILLINGNESS
TO CHANGE AND NOT STAY
SET IN OUR WAYS.