Tuesday, June 06, 2006

intergenerational community

Tonight my husband and I went to visit his grandparents in the retirement home where they live. For me it's a familiar place, because my great grandparents lived there when I was growing up, two of my grandparents live there in an apartment, and also these grandparents-in-law live there. It's a Quaker retirement community, and it's great hearing people's stories of growing up knowing of each other, going to college together, going off to various jobs, and coming back to retire here. It's pretty crazy to imagine myself there with my college friends in 50 years!

Every time I visit the Manor, as we call it, I'm reminded of why our communities need to be multi-generational. I'm not someone who is particularly drawn to ministry with older adults, but the people at the Manor are incredibly warm and welcoming, cheerful and friendly. We met several people last night with whom we made connections--went to the same seminary, they know my relatives, she grew up down the street from my grandma, etc. There's a sense of life and vitality in them that is often absent in younger people, where you'd expect it to be more present. Probably part of that is the fact that they can do whatever they want all day (within reason)--I can't wait to be retired! But part of it there at the Manor is all these people who have grown old in the presence of God, and I can see their Inner Light shining so brightly.

My grandparents-in-law are this way. She had a stroke so she can't walk very well and her voice is very weak, but you can tell she's just as sharp as ever. He takes care of her, patiently and humbly, and shared with us last night that he still can't believe he was the one to get her and all those other guys missed out! Their passion for their faith and their unashamed living of it is contagious and heartening. They are prayer warriors in the best sense of the word, holding others in the Light daily and probably hourly. They shared about the meeting they attend, how it now hardly meets in the sanctuary but has become a "coffeehouse church," where people come have coffee, chat, someone shares from up front a way they've seen God recently, and they sing a few songs. Grandpa shared that he's completely happy attending this meeting for worship, because it's like when they were ministering in Burundi--you have to listen to God to know what will connect with the culture, and he's happy doing whatever it is that God's doing in that area to help people's souls recognize the presence of the Divine.

I hope when I'm older I will be as immersed in the power and love of the Light of Christ as they are, as in love with my husband and as willing to reach out to those around me in new ways. There is much we can learn from each generation. I hope we listen well to that of God in those older than us, and when it's our turn we can share their love and Light along with ours to future generations.


NYAfterthoughts said...

There is already a peace and a sincerity in your voice that makes your light seem brighter than your years would suggest.

This topic is something I was thinking about this week, and after the service, I asked another Friend, who is about my mother's age, what she thinks about in the silence. You see, I'm 31, and I think I'm at least a decade younger (and sometimes five decades) younger than everyone else. I couldn't help but wonder this time, as I looked around, what will I "know" when I'm 50? What messages will I have received? I think you're not really supposed to ask, but other people's thoughts and motivations are, and probably always be, a mystery to me. She answered, hesitantly, but without saying much. I guess I should have seen that since, as Emerson said, answers are delusive--it is really no answer to the questions you ask.

Philip said...

I reached your post serendipidously through a web search on "intergenerational". Your thoughts were parallel and informative. As a senior I would like to live in an intergenerational environment.