Beginner's Heart

via google

via google

My calendar for the next few months is filling up quickly. And while usually that makes me feel overwhelmed (and I confess to moments of that still!), my upcoming events are all about the ‘rocks’ in my jar. You know, those values that are more important than anything? In my case, family, writing, service.

I’m going to spend a few days w/ a beloved niece in one of my favourite cities. I’m facilitating a writing retreat/ workshop. And I have several meetings w/ my favourite non-profit. I also have my grandniece’s FIRST birthday party to help host, as well as a much-anticipated watch-the-grandson trip.

In other words, I’m elder-ing.

Jimmy Carter & grandson  via flickr

Jimmy Carter & grandson
via flickr

It’s a rare blessing, to be called to elder. And yes, sometimes it’s challenging to juggle things. But when your life is full, it’s a good thing, signifying much love and good fortune. Certainly many of my rôle models are personal — my wonderful old ladies (grandmothers, great-aunts), my almost-godmothers. They loved me enough to teach me, not always an easy task. There were also professional rôle models, a boss or two who taught me the rules of my various professions (sales, journalism, scholarship, writing). But recently, they’ve been more universal: Jimmy Carter comes to mind. Here’s a picture of him with his grandson, eldering. It’s a verb, you know: to elder ~ to serve as an elder to one younger and/or less experienced. Originally used by the Quakers in reference to the ways older Quakers mentored younger ones in faith and education. Jimmy Carter has eldered me (& many many others) for decades.

In time of crisis? Carter turned to his spiritual values; he kept his faith. When he was ridiculed, even slandered, Carter kept on quietly doing what he has always done best — helping others. I have no idea how many homes Jimmy Carter has helped build for Habitat for Humanity, but surely it’s in the hundreds by now.

role modelAnd now, in his 90s, he’s still doing it: showing us how to live, how to age with grace and dignity. Reminding me to remain true to my own values — the ‘rocks’ in my life’s jar. Illustrating what it means to live a life that makes a difference. And nudging me not to complain because I have arthritis, and babies are hard to pick up — Jimmy Carter has cancer, for cryin’ out loud! Babies are soooo worth a little pain. As are nieces, and grandnieces, and grandsons & sons & the humanities & all the people & things that crowd my calendar. My wonderfully full & busy calendar, filled with myriad opportunities to aim high. To elder, like Jimmy Carter.

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