My morning yesterday unexpectedly focused on turkeys.
Before getting in the car for a trip to Roanoke, I glanced at Facebook. One of the posts that appeared was from a friend in the western part of the country. It showed a newly hatched turkey poultry surrounded by few additional eggs, some showing hairline cracks. The caption my friend included was, “Thanksgiving dinner has arrived!”
On I-64 just west of Charlottesville, I came up behind a truckload of turkeys on their way to processing. As I drove through a tunnel of white feathers, I looked up to the top right of the truck. In the highest cage was a turkey, neck straight up, head moving as if it was taking in all the beautiful mountain scenery as it traveled, unaware of the fate soon to be encountered. Then, my eye immediately caught sight of a turkey on the opposite side of the truck. It was obvious that its neck was already broken, its head dandling upside down on the outside of the “bars” holding it and the others hostage.
It struck me that within just a little more than an hour, I had witnessed the entire life cycle of a turkey.
I shared the morning with representatives from 6 local United Methodist Churches and staff from the Hermitage in Roanoke in a Learning Circle. The Learning Circle is a model from Action Pact, Inc. (www.culturechangenow.com) to develop common ground and mutual respect through facilitated discussion around a particular topic. We’ve been using the model to learn more about the role of the church in ministry with older adults in our congregations and communities and how we can support each other in our efforts. The question for yesterday had to do with our perceptions of the biggest unmet needs for older adults in our communities. The main take-away from the conversation was that we as a church could do a lot more to help people “learn to grow old” – to age with purpose. As one participant said, to prove the great worthiness of every person until death. That same individual made an observation that hurt my soul – hurt because of its truth and because I had to confess it myself. The unmet needs of older adults in our congregations and communities stem from our negligence…the sin of failing to value the wisdom and experience of those traveling the road ahead of us, the sin of not being present with our older adults, the sin of ageism in our churches, the sin of letting someone feel forgotten.
So, whether we’ve just hatched, are watching the world go by with wide-eyed optimism, or traveling toward the end of the road, we are called to age faithfully and to support one another on the journey.
“…But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day.”
2 Corinthians 4:16 (CEB)