The other day I was chatting with a girlfriend in another state, and she happened to mention an 80-year-old woman in her ward who is the Young Women’s President. It reminded me of another senior sister I knew, with the same calling, who surprised the teenagers in her ward by going to their Mutual pool partyin her 80sand doing a perfect jackknife off the diving board. Granted, she had been on the swim team in college, but they hadn’t known that.
Who are these amazing LDS people? And when are they going to slow down? Well, apparently they’re all of us, and they will never slow down. “I love this church,” my friend said. “It’s the only church where you can be 80 and still be young.”
It really is amazing to watch people fulfill callings of all kinds, regardless of their stage in life. Unlike churches with paid clergy, paid choirs, and paid teachers, we are lifelong volunteers, ready for whatever our next assignment may be. Leaders tell us never to draw a line in the sand and say, “I’ve served and I’m done.” If we’re on the Lord’s team, our retirement age is his decision. And when our bishop tells us he has prayed about our next calling, and feels inspired that this is where the Lord wants us to serve, we can rest assured that he will magnify our talents, buoy our confidence, and help us succeed.
Years ago I wrote a script for “Music and the Spoken Word” about an amazing go-getter in the golden years of life, whose funeral was unbelievable. Her son was one of the speakers and asked everyone to stand, who knew her through the garden guild. Then everyone who knew her through the homeowner’s club. Then through the Lung Association. On and on it went. Finally, he asked everyone to stand who knew her from Tae Bo class (!!) and finally, through church. The whole congregation was standing as an amazing tribute to a woman who could not be stopped, who was an example of service and missionary work 24-7.
A man in my ward, who passed away last year in his 90s, brought several residents to church from the senior care facility where he lived. One of them got baptized, others are still looking into it. No rocking chair for that guyhe was out lifting lives and setting the world on fire, right to the end.
I recall visiting a ward in Southern California where an elderly brother wore a huge round pin on his lapel that said, “I Love Primary.” After holding almost every calling a man could have, he was now teaching Sunbeams with gusto and enthusiasm.
When my daughter was eleven, her Achievement Day leader was a vivacious woman in her late 70s who left an indelible impression on all the girls, teaching them to stand up straight, project confidence, and dazzle the world (as she did).
Yes, sometimes there are physical limitations as we age, but nothing need dampen our enthusiasm for sharing the gospel, even if the only people in our lives are caregivers. And this determination to endure valiantly to the end is electrifyingothers catch that spark of joy and recognize long-forgotten truths. It really is impossible to get “old” in this church, if old means that you stop learning and giving. It’s as if we really do have a time machine that keeps us forever young.
I often think of an old friend who described the objective perfectly when he said, “I want to hit the veil running.” Yep. Me, too.
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