In the final line of her poem The Summer Day, Mary Oliver asks “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This query became the focus of our first worship service of the new year, the second annual “generations” service. Under the leadership of Worship Associate Scott Cullen, nine individuals representing the span of ages from teens to nineties reflected on Oliver’s question.
As I listened to each speaker, I began to notice a distinct difference. I heard folks at the younger end of the age spectrum saying things that reflect outreach, care for people and the world. These individuals proclaimed they planned to leave the world better than they found it…to move into the future with kindness and acceptance…to do their part so the current generation can move forward with hope in their hearts…to keep learning…to continue to be inspired by people who are excited about what they do and know.
These youthful aspirations were music to my ears. They brought me assurance that the future is in good hands!
When it came to the second half of the age spectrum, I noticed that our speakers’ comments tended to lean more toward self-care and personal growth. Some stated goals were to pursue Buddhism or other spiritual practice…to “follow the trail to contentment”…to eat more ice cream…take more chances…create that one perfect song….and even “to make it well into my hundreds.”
As a member of that second group of folks, I totally get it. When we’re younger, we’re filled with optimism and hope – eager to do our part. And we have the energy to devote to our efforts. We’re indomitable!! And indeed, this is how the work of the world gets done.
As we move on in age, we continue to make important contributions….but we also begin to realize how important it is to take care of ourselves, to do things that feed our souls and bodies. Not that we turn totally inward, but somehow that goal of saving the world encompasses saving ourselves.
In sharing the kernels I gleaned from this service, I realize that I have probably inadequately represented the reflections of some of our speakers – and I apologize. But as I consider the aspirations and goals shared during that service, I’m once again reminded what a privilege it is to be part of the loving community of UUCWC!!
by Bonnie Ruekgauer