Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Olivia's purpose

Olivia wasn’t one to read poems at Bible study but this one was apparently important to her. She cleared her throat and read the lines in a sing-song sort of way.

There is a special place in life,

That needs my humble skill…..

And on it went, proclaiming the special mark in life that each of us will leave.

There is a special place in life

That I was meant to fill…..
(From "A Place for Me" by Grace E. Easley)

As Olivia put the paper down, she smiled. Olivia always smiles so that’s not something new. She has a sweet sense of humor and greets every visitor who comes into the assisted-living home where she resides.

“I really liked this poem,” she confided. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a purpose anymore. After all, I’m 93!”

I once attended a Native American pow-wow where the elders were honored with a special ceremony. As the drums pounded out a song I did not know, the chief escorted any person over 60 before the crowd. It was a solemn opening to their weekend of celebration.

“We give honor to our elders,” the chief explained.

American culture tends not to, so we have those like Olivia who have lived rich and interesting lives but feel like their time is done.

“This poem helped me,” Olivia said. “I think God still has use for me. I’m going to be looking for that every day.”

American culture suffers from age-ism, that bias against the elders. We put them in a box of narrowness, assuming they have little to contribute to society. We value young bodies and inexperienced minds.

Moses was 80 when he faced off against the Pharaoh. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. At age 500, Noah was building an ark in obedience to God.

God’s not so concerned with age so why are we?

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