To Boldly Go into the Journey of Abundant Aging

By Reverend Jessica Tinkham  •  May 02, 2024

Growing up loving science fiction in the 90s meant that I was drawn to Star Trek: The Next Generation. As soon as that iconic introduction music began and the camera panned to different scenes of planets while Jean Luc Picard’s voice began speaking “space, the final frontier….” I felt like I was taking my own journey on the starship USS Enterprise.  

I retook that journey by rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) during the COVID 19 lockdown. Of course, TNG as an adult was a journey that offered new perspectives and deeper appreciation for the iconic series. As I journeyed alongside Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew, I witnessed not only their adventures in space but also their growth, evolution, and the challenges of mortality. As I continue to consider my own abundant aging, I become more convinced that few franchises have explored the complexities of aging with as much grace and wisdom as Star Trek: The Next Generation. 

Embracing Change and Adaptation 

Throughout TNG, we see characters grappling with the passage of time and the changes it brings. From Picard's reflections on his youth to Data's exploration of his own humanity, the show emphasizes the importance of embracing change and adapting to new circumstances. Just as the crew of the USS Enterprise navigates the ever-shifting currents of the galaxy, so too must we embrace the inevitability of change and find strength in our ability to adapt. 

Wisdom and Experience 

One of the most significant themes of TNG is the value of wisdom and experience that comes with age. Captain Picard, in particular, embodies this idea, drawing on his years of command experience to navigate the complexities of interstellar diplomacy and exploration. As we age, we accumulate a wealth of knowledge and life experience that can guide us through the challenges we face. Like Picard, we can learn to trust in our own wisdom and draw upon our past experiences to inform our decisions. 

Resilience and Perseverance 

The characters of TNG often find themselves confronting adversity and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. From encounters with hostile aliens to personal tragedies, they demonstrate resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. As we age, we inevitably encounter our own share of challenges and setbacks. Yet, like the crew of the Enterprise, we can draw upon our inner strength and determination to persevere in the face of adversity. 

Relationships and Connection 

At the heart of TNG are the relationships forged among the crew of the USS Enterprise. Over the course of the series, we see these relationships deepen and evolve, transcending rank and duty to become bonds of friendship and family. As we age, our relationships become increasingly important, providing us with a sense of connection, belonging, and support. Like the crew of the Enterprise, we can cultivate meaningful connections with others and draw strength from the bonds we share. 

Embracing the Journey 

Ultimately, TNG teaches us to embrace the journey of aging with courage, grace, and a sense of adventure. Just as the crew of the Enterprise boldly goes where no one has gone before, so too can we embrace the unknowns of aging with a spirit of curiosity and exploration. As we navigate the complexities of growing older, may we draw inspiration from the lessons of TNG and boldly embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Star Trek: The Next Generation offers a compelling vision of aging that celebrates the wisdom, resilience, and connection that come with growing older. By embracing change, drawing upon our experiences, nurturing our relationships, and embracing the journey ahead, we can boldly navigate the complexities of aging and mortality with grace and dignity, just like the crew of the USS Enterprise. 


For Reflection (either individually or with a group) 

Read the blog. Read it a second time, maybe reading it aloud or asking someone else to read it aloud so you can hear it with different intonation and emphases. Invite the Divine to open your heart to allow the light of new understanding to pierce the shadows of embedded assumptions, stereotypes, and ways of thinking so that you may live more abundantly. Then spend some time with the following questions together with anything or anyone who helps you reflect more deeply. 

  • When have you embraced change that you didn’t initiate? How did you adapt to the changed circumstances? 
  • In what area has your knowledge and experiences given you wisdom—insights and understanding? How are you sharing your wisdom with younger generations? 
  • Who are the people with whom you have deep connections? How do you give them and how do they give you a sense of belonging, and support? 


Download a pdf including the Reflection Questions to share and discuss with friends, family, or members of your faith community small group

About the Author

Reverend Jessica Tinkham

Reverend Jessica Tinkham (she/her/hers) is a chaplain for United Church Homes. She and her husband have three children who keep them very busy. Rev Jessica graduated with her BA in Religion in 2010 from Wright State University and her Master of Divinity in 2019 from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH. She loves traveling to the beach and the mountains and would love to see the Grand Canyon in person. Rev Jessica is creative and especially loves crocheting and hopes to learn how to quilt.

View all articles by Reverend Jessica Tinkham