I’m roughly of the same vintage as the Skagit River Bridge, north of Seattle. You know the one, where a 160-foot section of the bridge collapsed on May 23 after a truck’s load of drilling equipment bumped the bridge’s steel framework? Yeah, that’s the one. Several of my co-workers are also of that same vintage, and I couldn’t help but think of us—young Baby Boomers—when I heard the 58-year-old bridge described as “functionally obsolete.”
According to the Federal Highway Administration, being “functionally obsolete” means the bridge’s design is outdated and that the bridge is no longer “functionally adequate for its task.” Despite that, more than 70,000 cars were using the Skagit River Bridge each day before the collapse. The FHA also says that nearly 85,000 bridges in the U.S. are “functionally obsolete.”
Like a lot of those 85,000 bridges, we young Baby Boomers could probably use a bit of maintenance and repair. We’re walking around with some visible (and invisible) signs of damage and aging. Or as the mechanic told me last week when the engine mounts needed replacing on our seven-year-old car, we are “sagging and lack elasticity.”
Lest these metaphors get out of hand, allow me to make my point. Unlike aging bridges and worn out engine mounts, Christians don’t become functionally obsolete as we age. Granted, some of us don’t age too gracefully and others of us are stuck in outmoded ministry models, fighting change at every turn, but we always remain adequate for our task of being disciples. Whatever our age, whatever our abilities, wherever we find ourselves, we are more than adequately equipped to be disciples of Christ. “Are you still breathing?” asks Sister Joan Chittister. “Then you’ve still got work to do in the name of Christ.”
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director.