We parents joined the circle of junior high kids to pray together before sending them off on a week-long bicycle trip.“Let’s have a couple of people pray,” the youth pastor said, “and then we’ll have Scott close us, because, well, he’s the oldest dad here.”“Ouch!” one of the adults exclaimed. “Oh, Scott, I’m so sorry!” someone joked.Scott, by the way, is only a little bit older than me.Also, he wasn’t the oldest dad in the circle.But those details didn’t bother me as much as our responses. Why was it painful to be identified as old? Why do we cringe when someone points out signs of age?My 75-year-old father-in-law just came back from a trip to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “They respect age in Congo,” he remarked. “I was always given the best seat, and they listened and spoke to me as an honored elder among them.”One 90-degree day, he and his traveling companion (my brother-in-law “Oli”) were visiting some church leaders. In spite of the extreme temperatures, he and Oli wore suit jackets, because men tend to dress more formally there for meetings. When the meeting ended, Oli, concerned about how hot his father-in-law must be, said, “You can take that off now.”The Congolese driver overheard and felt that Oli’s remark sounded bossy. The driver scolded him. “Don’t you speak to him like that! He is your elder!”In Congo and other places, we would be enjoying a new era of respect with the deepening of wrinkles and appearance of age spots. Instead, here in the States, it’s different. Age is to be feared. We’re frantically spreading cream on every laugh line and covering every gray hair—embarrassed to be identified as the oldest person in a group. In an age-phobic culture, we need to be reminded of true beauty from people like Dena Dyer, who recently came out with Let the Crow’s Feet and Laugh Lines Come! Rediscovering Beauty and Self-Worth at Any Age. And while the following video doesn’t necessarily increase respect for seniors or cause us to seek wisdom from those with life experience, we probably do need people like Anita Renfroe to help us laugh at the messages that the world sends out.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaruNs_7okY&feature=related]As fun as that video is, I do wish that our culture could see gray hair as a crown of splendor instead of something to be hidden under the color of youth as long as possible.In the meantime, I have a date. With Miss Clairol.Photos of my mother’s hands by Ann Kroeker © 2010Don’t miss reading “Rushed on the Road” and “Slow Down and Stay Cool” over at NotSoFastBook.com.