Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Claim the role of wisdom-bearer

I've heard and read a lot about the place of elders or older adults in community life. More and more people seem to be aware of the importance of the role of an elder, a matriarch or patriarch with accumulated life experience and wisdom. It's good to reclaim that place of respect that used to be reserved in traditional societies for those who had achieved great age.

While you might be acknowledged by others for your years of wisdom, it's also necessary and important that you claim yourself as a vital resource to those around you, whether in your family, your congregation, your community or the wider world. This is more about being a presence in those arenas than it is about power.

This isn't about an either/or situation where you claim a seat of wisdom over against more youthful members of your family, group or community. It's both/and. The most healthy, thriving institutions and communities value both youthful energy, ideas and creativity and the wisdom that accrues after one has experienced the best and the worst life has to offer. We can learn from each other. Older adults can be energized and revitalized when they work with younger folks. And the youthful ones among us can become more grounded and purposeful as they interact with older adults, perhaps even allowing themselves to be placed in a mentoring relationship with them. There is so much to be gained that way.

Wherever you are in life, look for ways to tap into the energies both of those younger and those older than you. And claim your own place and role, whatever that might be.

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