An image of an elderly man outside his home in a Kenyan slum.
Aug 23 2017

Appreciating the giftedness of elders

Your weekly reflection from Unbound

An image of an elderly man outside his home in a Kenyan slum.
Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by Managing Editor Loretta Shea Kline.

August 21 was National Senior Citizens Day, an opportunity to honor the elders in our lives and thank them for all they’ve given us.

I think of my 96-year-old mother, Erla, who shows me what it means to age with grace and courage. She has little eyesight left, which limits her in doing everyday tasks and things she enjoys like reading, playing piano and following baseball.

But she doesn’t focus on limits. Instead, she concentrates on what’s still possible for her: listening to an audio book, singing and playing a hymn from memory instead of sheet music, and listening to a baseball game on radio. Her example encourages me to persevere despite obstacles that come my way.

I also think of elders I’ve met in my travels for Unbound. Recently, I met Erastus, a 71-year-old man in Kenya who lost his wife and home in the post-election violence of 2007. He told us how he felt blessed to receive international visitors, and he welcomed me and the other Unbound staff members to his home with a ready smile and an offering of fresh fruit.

He willingly shared his life’s story, from his boyhood and school days in colonial times to working hard as a farmer and experiencing love and loss. He talked repeatedly about the need to be “flexible,” which I took to mean having the capacity to adapt, to be resilient and joyful in the face of sorrow and life’s everyday trials.

We have much to learn from our elders, and in honor of National Senior Citizens Day, let’s be mindful of all the ways they show younger generations how to live life to its fullest. My mother summed up her approach to life by singing for me a verse from one of her favorite hymns, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Read a story about an elderly woman in Guatemala who lives with joy and gratitude amidst hardships.

Please pray

Lord of life, open our eyes and hearts to appreciate the gifts that elders model for us, like contentment. We’re reminded in Matthew 6:26 that true contentment comes from reliance on God: “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they?” Grant us insight and humility to learn from the examples of elders, and see them for the blessings they are in our lives. We ask this in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Loretta Shea Kline

Managing Editor

Loretta joined Unbound in 2000. She brings more than 30 years of experience in journalism and organizational communications to her role as managing editor. Her passion is telling stories of children, families and elders served by Unbound around the world. Loretta is a graduate of Drake University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Des Moines, Iowa.

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