In most societies old people are revered because they provide a link with the past. They are the carriers of the community’s memory. Yet the New Testament takes a different view. There, people like Zechariah, Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon looked forward prophetically to the age to come. Is there something about old age that thins the boundary between heaven and earth, and gives older people – even frail and confused older people – a heavenly perspective? And can the rest of us learn to tune into it?
Joanna Collicutt is the Oxford Diocesan advisor on the spiritual care of older people, and also a lecturer in Psychology and Spirituality at Ripon College. She worked for many years with people who had complex disability and brain injury, but more recently has moved into the field of psychology of religion.