Last week I talked about some animals with deceiving appearances. Today I’m pondering another such instance—this time a plant. I was giving a friend a tour of my garden and explaining how raspberry plants fruit on second-year canes. When I pointed out a second-year cane, with its brown stem and peeling bark, she couldn’t believe that it would be the fruiting cane, especially in comparison with the vibrant green stalks of the first-year canes. Perhaps for her, the vibrant green represented youthful vigor and life, and a lively branch would seem, logically, to be the one to bear fruit.
American culture certainly makes similar presumptions. The vitality and energy of youth are celebrated in everything from business deals to car ads, while those who are older are either the butt of jokes or the target of pharmaceutical ads that focus on ways to regain that youthful vigor. Anyone over “a certain age” who has tried to get a new job has experienced the ageism that exists in American society today. Street smarts and book learning are valued much more highly than the wisdom gained through experience in the “school of hard knocks.”
Yet it is that life experience which, in many cases, makes the wisdom of our elder generations worth hearing, pondering, and integrating into our own lives. Those of us in the “second half of life” (whether that is defined by age or by the depth of our life experiences) have powerful wisdom to share. The fruit of our life experience is much richer and more nutritional than the fruit from the first half of life. Like those raspberry canes, it is only those that survive into the second half of life that bear “fruit that will last” (John 15:16).
Do you value the wisdom of those in the second half of life? If you feel you are in the second half of life, do you value your own wisdom? Do you find ways to share the fruit of your experience, in ways that will last?