Do we just have to grow old?

Jim Heynen, an author, and Paul Boyer, a photographer, traveled around the United States and Canada talking to people who were at least a hundred years old. One of the common characteristics that they found in these people's lives is a lot of caring for others.

Add to that observation something said by a contributor to a book of essays written by prominent men and women, reflecting on what they have learned during long and useful lives. "Our youth and most of our middle years are spent like the life of a dragonfly skimming the water; we seek the sun, flowers, and food, unaware of the depths below or the sky above. We are ... absorbed in self-needs and all the lovely surfaces" (Rosemary DeCamp in The Courage to Grow Old). She goes on to say that at some point the dragonfly can be replaced by deeper interest, one that seeks out the real reason for being what we are.

What fleshed out these lessons was contact one morning with three people. All had lived long and useful lives and were well on their way to the century mark. At what normally is thought to be a well-advanced age, each was still actively interested in the world and in helping others—no dragonflies there! Each one was a student of the Bible and of Christian Science and had found a practical understanding of God. As a result, their lives have had an outreaching and inspiring effect. People that possess strong, deep-reaching, spiritual purpose are remarkable.

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January 7, 1991

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