Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Well-trodden Path

I have the privilege of working with people of various ages, from co-workers the age of my children to patients who are nearly centenarians. Young parents sometimes bring their babies and preschoolers in for a visit and their energy and curiosity is enjoyed by all.

Too often our society segregates people by age and as the family unit shrinks or is fragmented, some young people may not have contact with the elderly at all. My grandmother was one of the most influential people in my growing up years and I spent a lot of time with her. She took me to visit her "ancient" friends and "made me" help her volunteer at a local nursing home serving ice cream at the tuck shop. How lucky I was! I learned to enjoy being with people outside my peer group. One summer when I was 17, she took me on a bus trip to the Gaspé Peninsula in the Province of Quebec. I was younger than the average person on the tour by at least two generations, but we had a great time.

I know now that age is only a number, that some people are ageless as they never lose their desire to learn and listen and love. They choose to walk away from the cynicism and criticism that some older people have of the world in general and younger generations in particular.

I have had the recent pleasure of meeting a lady in her nineties who started university in her mid-fifties after her children were grown. She graduated with her degree and continued with creative writing classes at the local college. She has written many stories, both personal and devotional, that are so interesting to read. Her family published two books from of her collection of notes in honour of her ninetieth birthday. She has a middle-aged handicapped child who will always need special care and her prayer below speaks of this situation. She is far ahead of me on the path of life and the wisdom from her vantage point is well worth sharing with those who follow her footsteps.

The Prayer

I asked God to take away my pride...
and God said no...
God said it wasn't up to him to take but for me to give up...


I asked God to make my handicapped child whole...
and God said no...
God said her spirit is whole...her body is only temporary...


I asked God to grant me patience...
and God said no...
God said patience is a by-product of tribulation. It isn't granted. It is earned...


I asked God to give me happiness...
and God said no...
God said he gives blessings. Happiness is up to me...


I asked God to make my spirit grow...
and God said no...
God said I must grow on my own.
But I will be in heaven someday because I believe...


I asked God to spare me any pain...
and God said no...
God said suffering draws you apart from worldly care and brings you closer to him...


I asked God to help me love others as much as God loves me...
and God said,
"Ah, at last. You finally have the idea...!!!"


14 comments:

  1. You were accepting of your grand and the oldies. Many wouldn't have been. Great poem.

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  2. some people don't seem to have that desire to learn but it think the older we get the more desire we have to learn more! Great post!

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  3. Great post!

    I went to a little country church for a while and the congregation did basically everything together. There were Sunday school classes but the open session was with the older folk ... and the older folk enjoyed the stories and games as much as the children. Then there came a movement in Christendom ... everyone was segregated into age groups ... the young marrieds, the singles, the 20s, 30s, 40s etc. Children were sent off as soon as possible, separated from the elders. I looked longingly back at the "old" days (and they weren't even that old) where one learned to appreciate each other, their needs and joys ... and to learn from each other across the age boundaries.

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  4. Well, that was so beautiful - I have goosebumps.

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  5. AC- I think grandparents can turn off kids by being critical and negative. Grandma took us for picnics, to concerts, played games with us, and visiting her old friends was just an occasional thing. I never heard her speak against my parents. She travelled widely, was very well informed and we found her fascinating.

    Monarch- The bloggers I have met are all very inquisitive. Unfortunately, I have met may older people who aren't interested in learning.

    CS- You have said so well what I as also thinking and couldn't work into this post. Our church is the same way with age segregation and it is wrong in my opinion. We are now in the Over 50 group and people would wonder if we wanted to go bowling with the Young Parents' Group or go to a luncheon with the Seniors.

    Jean- I thought this lady's writing was beautiful too. This piece was one of my favourites in her book.

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  6. OMG that poem is awesome! I love older people, having grown up living next door to my grandparents.

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  7. "I know now that age is only a number, that some people are ageless as they never lose their desire to learn and listen and love. They choose to walk away from the cynicism and criticism that some older people have of the world in general and younger generations in particular."

    So true. I wish everyone learned something from their life experiences and shared it with others - I respect those who do as opposed to those who are negative and critical all the time.

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  8. I used to stay with my grandparents for a week at a time up until I was about thirteen.I have fond memories of those times.-Thanks for the nice prayer

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  9. She's a wise woman. It's nice to know seniors who are still exercising - maybe not physically but emotionally and passionately in education. My Dad was a learner until a few years ago. When he stopped watching the history channel over, I felt sad for him. It was only a year ago when he didn't care anymore.

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  10. A beautiful poem and so inspirational to hear all that she did in her life's second half.
    Beth

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  11. Beautiful and thought-provoking! (PS... I love that photo in the sidebar with the hat and sunglasses... You look like a movie star from a by-gone era!)

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  12. Wow. I received this very poem in my email in March of 2000 (I went to my mail folder and looked as I kept it) and was so touched by it. How lovely that you know the special lady who composed it. There is indeed so much to learn from others, regardless of their time on this earth.

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  13. Pam- You were fortunate to grow up near your grandparents. Most people do not have that privilege.

    Becka- A negative attitude can begin in the young but at any age, is a real turnoff.

    Larry- Glad you have those nice memories as a foundation in your life.

    Mary- We have to exercise our brains as much as our muscles. However, strokes like your dad has had cause permanent damage. We must make the best of each day.

    Beth- I hope I can make the second half of my life better than the first :-)

    Jennifer- thanks, lol! Movie star indeed. I am happy that big sunglasses are back in style. I was in a fishing boat on Manitoulin Island last summer wearing my Tilley Hat. It is a self-shot photo.

    Jayne- I think it is true that the internet contains or will contain shortly, all the information in the world! We can have lots of knowledge, but wisdom is more elusive.

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  14. Thanks for sharing, Ruth. That was a truly inspiring and uplifting poem. How wonderful to know the author - a very wise individual.

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