Friends General Conference

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Aging In the Light: Challenges and Rewards of the Later Years

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Some pictures of our poetic Friends, reciting at the meetinghouse on Sunday, March 5, 2017, in a program by Judith Searle and Tim Vreeland, with guest poet Stan Searl, entitled "Aging in the Light: Challenges and Rewards of the Later Years", an Adult Education presentation.

It was a wonderful hour - it touched me deeply, and introduced me to some new poets as well. - Ann Fuller


   “AGING IN THE LIGHT” alludes to a Quaker practice of “holding in the light” people who are experiencing difficulties or challenges in their lives. I’ve heard individual Quakers describe this practice in various ways, but my own general impression is that holding someone “in the light” always involves a wish for that person’s highest good. One of the poems in today’s program addresses this issue from a personal perspective.

   The Santa Monica Meeting is an “unprogramed” Quaker Meeting, one in which there are no clergy; members and attenders volunteer their time to work on committees th at serve the Meeting’s needs. I serve on the Adult Education Committee for our Meeting and have presented several programs to the Meeting involving readings of poetry.

   Having heard a number of comments about the large proportion of older people currently in our Meeting, I conceived the idea of preparing a program about the challenges and rewards of the “later years,” organized around selections of classic and contemporary poetry. I was already familiar with many of the works I felt should be included, and I asked for and received excellent suggestions from both Friends and friends.

   As I attempted to organize the 31 poems I chose into a coherent hour-long program, I realized that grouping them into six categories made sense. The program begins with 8 poems that offer PORTRAITS of individuals who are facing the issues of aging in a variety of ways. From there, we move to LOSSES, with some humorous examples to balance the challenges. The third category is LOVE (though it might also have been entitled GAINS, in contrast to the LOSSES). Sections on MOURNING and MORTALITY follow, and the program ends with four poems under the heading IN THE LIGHT, offering examples of spiritual evolution that I especially treasure.

   I feel blessed that my partner, Tim Vreeland, is willing to contribute his fine voice and seasoned intelligence to sharing with me the reading of these splendid poems.

                                —Judith Searle

For a list of the poems read, click on the "Files" link below.