A few weeks ago, I went to a birthday party for a person who turned 100 years old.
It was held in the sanctuary of local church, and over 125 people from as far away as Japan had united as one to share in this special moment.
As my wife and I walked into that church, you immediately felt the presence of love. You just felt… something. It was a unique feeling. And I’m not kidding.
As we entered the actual sanctuary, sitting at the front of the room watching all of us walk in was Mr. B. – the 100 year old birthday boy. (I will just give his initial to maintain his privacy.)
Once we were all seated, the program began and Mr. B. – through the use of a power point on his laptop – briefly shared his life’s journey.
What this man had experienced since 1906 was amazing. From a small, poor farm in Kentucky – with no electricity or indoor plumbing – through the real depression, World War II, getting married, going to college, having kids, starting a career, and so on. I mean, no computers, cable TV (or TV for that matter)… all of it. Amazing.
At the conclusion of the program, he said that everyone had been asking him what he attributed to his long life. He said it wasn’t genetics, because (as he shared during the power point presentation) his parents had both died when he was a young man. He said that what he believed accounted for his longevity was his trust in and love for Jesus Christ.
How marvelous. How refreshing. No claims of eating this or not eating that or taking a specific vitamin or anything. Just a love for his spiritual leader.
Additionally, Mr. B. said he talked to God many times during the day and would always give thanks for what he had – even if what he had wasn’t that much in the eyes of other people. It was enough for him. He also said that he was grateful to his family and loved them all and missed those – such as his wife and son – who had passed away years before.
That’s beautiful. To have a love for something or someone else, to give thanks to something greater than yourself, to be satisfied with the blessings you have (instead of always wanting more), to love your family and be loved back by so many friends and family…. that’s simply marvelous.
Before the ceremony was over, we all sang songs. Since Mr. B. was from Kentucky, we all sang, “My Old Kentucky Home.” He likes baseball, so we sang, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (not once, but twice).
I have to tell you, I have never heard those songs sung with more heart and soul than on that day. And I’m not ashamed to say that I, as well as others, had a hard time making it through those songs, as our emotions overtook us at the sight, sound and feeling of a room full of people… and a 100 year old man… singing at the top of their collective lungs.
When the ceremony was over, we all went to the community room for food, laughter, tears and hugs.
Now, how does this apply to you? Well – here are a few ways that come to mind:
1) Whatever is your religion – or lack of one – if you feel it helps you, then it does.
2) Believing in something greater than yourself is a good thing.
3) Be happy with what you have. Stop comparing and give thanks.
4) Respect your elders. They’ve been through a lot and know more than you probably give them credit for.
5) When you have a chance to sing, whether you can sing or not, open up that “pie hole” and let everything you’ve got out.
6) There are few things that take the place of a community of people who come together under the auspices of love.
7) Love your family and friends. You never know when they will be gone from your life.
Perhaps, you already knew these 7 lessons; however, with the busy lives most of us lead, we have a tendency to forget the simple little things that, in the end, really mean a lot. These things mean more than that new iPhone, that new TV, that job promotion or that cruise vacation.
So, here’s to you, Mr. B. Thank you for sharing your story with us, as well as your life. I’ll never be able to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” again, without thinking of you. And that… is marvelous!
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