Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Choose Joy!

I've always had lots of older people in my life, senior citizens who lived well into their 90s and several who have passed the 100 mark. There were wonderful elderly folks at the churches I attended over the years and I always enjoyed the multi-generational gatherings of family and friends. There's never been a time in my life that I lacked for relationships with "old people."

Looking back, I wonder if some of those folks weren't actually about the age I am now! When you are a kid and you see someone in their 60s, you think you have found the embodiment of the word "ancient". (That may be how the children in our neighborhood and church think of me! Now that's a distressing thought!)

So this morning, as I've been remembering two very remarkable men from my college days, it occurs to me that they, too, might have been as ancient as 60 when I knew them! They were Frank Kline and Mendel Miller, professors at Seattle Pacific College.

Dr Kline was a big man. Years later, when we were next door neighbors, he told me that he was so grateful to be round because there was a time in his youth that he was very ill and skinny. He enjoyed life. Actually, I think you could say he loved life. He had been a missionary in India and had founded a Bible school that is going strong today. His wife Betty, a tiny thing, was a beloved Bible teacher in Seattle. 

My fondest memories of Dr Kline, whether on campus or as my neighbor, revolve around joy. He was an animated Bible professor, a be-smitten grandfather (the grandsons came to visit from time to time and even when they weren't around he had stories to tell), a gracious host, and a dear friend.

Dr Miller taught economics and introduced the program at our chapel services. He seemed almost simple in his joy. The longer he lived, the simpler his life seemed to become -- all the extras dropping off as the focus of his life became more clear. And he'd smile, then chuckle, and you wanted to be like that when you got "old" yourself.

One day in chapel our guest speaker was -- wow! maybe I am getting old. I can't think of his name right now, but he was a man already in his 80s, a former missionary to India where his life had had an amazing impact and a man known around the world. Anyway, what I do remember is that during that chapel he said, "Life is fun and it is getting funnier all the time!" I thought it a remarkable way to approach aging.

Getting old has its downsides, we all know that. But I choose to follow the attitudes of these men of great influence in my life. As I grow older, I choose joy!

EDITORS NOTE -- I finally figured it out. The chapel speaker was E. Stanley Jones.


camilla said...

Even at almost 40 years young I think that I am learning more and more that life does get better as our focus and purpose becomes more and more clear. I appreciated this post, Ginger.

barefootmommy said...

I wholeheartedly agree with what's his name at the end: life does get funnier! I can't believe the things I took so awfully seriously just ten years ago. The years and the experiences tend to smooth away the tenseness in our minds, relaxing us and helping us to laugh!

Joan Husby said...

Thanks for stirring up the memories of those wonderful SPU professors. To me it seemed that the largest share of them lived joyfully. What a blessing to their students!