On Sept. 24 I had the honor of attending a program at Friendship Baptist Church in Flanders, honoring some of its octogenarian church members.
These are members who are in their 80s and are “still blessed to be among the land of the living,” as my great aunt Blanche would say.
As I entered the lower auditorium of the church I could feel a sense of youthfulness in the air. An aura of adolescent jubilation, even if there were no youths in attendance. It was coming from the octogenarians themselves.
There in front of me was well over a thousand years of life’s knowledge and wisdom, so much that even Socrates and Plato would envy what I was witnessing.
The theme of the event was “This Is Your Life!” — a celebration for seasoned senior citizens who have been blessed to reach the milestone of 80-plus years.
Eva Jefferson, the driving force behind the event, said “we believe that honor should be given while one can know and feel the beauty of it all.”
Her plans are to make this an annual celebration on the fourth Saturday in September, under the pastoral leadership of the Rev. A. Charles McElroy and Pastor Maryanne McElroy.
The audience was treated to a brief history of each of the octogenarians’ lives. Among the group of local residents honored was Annie Jackson, Pearl Trent, Porter Trent, Earlene Trent, Lawyer Jackson, Othelia Jackson, Mary Jones, Arlene Baxter, Eleanor Lingo, Harold Bartlett, Rose Bartlett, Sophie Brown, Nannie Ayers and Geraldine Langhorne.
Each history contained struggles and obstacles, but ended with triumphs, and the common denominator was standing firm in the faith. This was the life lesson taught through each of their lives. As an added treat, it was announced that one honoree, Mr. Bartlett, was actually 94 years young.
Each honoree donned a royal robe and was crowned prince and princess, yet they were reminded by Pastor Maryanne that their ultimate crown awaits them in Heaven above.
I’ve learned that there is a sweetness and a beauty that God gives to the aged that you cannot have in your youth. It’s the sweetness and beauty of peace and stability.
As each honoree patiently made their way to the podium to speak, not once did they complain about any ailments or physical constraints. They all spoke of a common denominator — “faith” in God. They spoke of how you have to live a number of years and go through some struggles in order to have faith and testify that “in thee oh Lord do I put my trust.”
Each honoree’s life and testament was a lesson for us all, that not only is God a deliverer, he is a keeper. He will keep you in perfect peace for those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in him.
The author is a former Riverhead resident and Riverhead High School graduate who now resides in Virginia.
Photo credit: Barbaraellen Koch