The fountain of youth is a legendary spring that promises to restore the youth of anyone who drinks its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted since the days of the Greek historian Herodotus. Closer to home, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León is said to have been searching for the fountain when, instead, he bumped into Florida.
Today Florida is an icon of both youth and age, known as a playground for the young (Disney World! Epcot!) and where the elderly enjoy their final years in the sun. As such, it is an icon of another icon: our bodies.
While we aren't looking for a mythical fountain of water, we are constantly searching for a fountain—that is, a source—of youthfulness. The usual places to look have been exercise and diet regimens. But more and more, technology is trying to give us an age edge. Just as this issue was going to print, Harvard researchers announced they had successfully reversed the aging process in mice—and hoped to replicate the results in humans.
We are fascinated by this prospect because getting old is a drag on the mind and body. I know of where I speak. The older I get, the more I see the wisdom in granting status to elders(!), but I admit that when I look at the athleticism and energy of the young, I'm envious. And I'm hardly alone. To paraphrase Augustine, it appears we were created with a God-shaped yearning to be young—to enjoy life with all our faculties at full wattage, and to do so forever.
But we have also been created with God-shaped bodies designed to live a mere threescore and ten, fourscore at best (Ps. 90:10, KJV). As we get older, our bodies become divinely fashioned icons of our mortality—and thus point to something God has prepared for ...1