NPR had a program on Elders today. The question was asked “When did you know you were an elder?” I suddenly realized I have been an “elder in training” for over 50 years. I have sat at the feet of elders (grandparents, great uncles & aunts, neighbors, parishioners and friends) as long as I can recall. I don’t recall a time when I did not have at least one elder as a friends whom I would visit and learn from.
I hope that over time I have been able to distill the wisdom shared with me by them and use it not only in my life but also by sharing it in pastoral conversation and counseling, as well in sermons and articles, and casual conversation.
While other people’s reaction to me tells me I am now approaching the status of elder I don’t feel “elderish.” I do not feel wise and patriarchal. But I know I have accumulated enough experience to be able to share some of what I know with others. I am able to sit in the midst of most pastoral situations with more calm than the persons experiencing the crisis.
Yet I still have thoughts about what I want to be “when I grow up.” I still see myself as a contemporary of people who are young enough to be my children if not grandchildren. And I have come to that point of realizing that often when I say something happened “a few years ago” I may be talking decades. But with a mother who is 91 and going strong I know that I am not REALLY an elder yet – just one in training!