Saturday, September 7, 2013

NOAC National Older Adult Conference

Lib and I just returned from the Church of the Brethren"NOAC" It is for older adults 50 years and older and is located in the Smokey mountains of North Carolina. The Methodists have created a center around Lake Junaluska that is just right for this gathering. The conference runs from Monday evening through Friday noon. Each main session opens with congregational singing of  hymns and a brief worship session. Then a speaker chosen for their ability to challenge our thinking on the theme of the conference makes their presentation . This year's theme was "Healing Springs Forth" and was three dimensional: healing ourselves, healing our community, and then reaching out to healing our world.

It was moving to see people our age, many who were significantly physically impaired in attendance. Two years ago I was severely crippled by arthritis and unable to walk without assistance. With my new hip implants I'm part of the healed, so having been on the hurting side I was much more impressed by those who might have been in the same or similar situation.

Older people, especially in the West, are often marginalized and buy into that self image. This gathering provides ways to affirm our real value to ourselves, our families and our communities. Here is the place to learn how. It is too easy to drop out of society and meaningful relationships. That leads to depression and further loss of esteem and usefulness.

While we were there we drove up to Newfound Gap on the main road between Cherokee, NC and Gatlinburg, TN. It is one of our favorite spots and in the East is about as close as I can get to the feeling of Mussoorie. It's barely 5000 feet in altitude. In the mountains the ambiance resembles Landour It was a bright sunny day and the light was good for photos.

Most of the speakers were prolific writers. I was most impressed  by Phyllis Tickle, nearly 80 years of age who spoke perceptively of the changes she had witnessed since World War II in American life, what it portended for us, and how we might best make of the future it was tending toward. Checked her books out in Kindle and she has a bushel basket full. Says she will stop the book tours and public speaking in the next two years.

There are many activities to take part in between the main sessions and also there was educational entertainment each afternoon before dinner. Birds of prey with live birds was quite interesting to me.
Also, a session about hand made American Indian flutes was fascinating.

Connecting with old friends across the denomination, family and near family, and getting to know the stories of others along our journey at meal times was surely an added blessing. On the last day I reconnected with a lady missionary to India that had arrived there just a year or so before our family returned to America. We were able to fill in some of the gaps of our knowledge of the years in between.. Was it just coincidence or something meant to be.

During our five days we found profundities to mull over, challenges to live for, and grace to make it happen. In other faiths there is often an emphasis on personal piety through pilgrimage, alms, and absolution all good ways to improve connection to our Source. The Brethren have been doing some of the same things with an emphasis on the together part of the equation. This is  one of those.
Dear friends; Renee Brown and Linda Crumpacker with Lib Kinzie

Our worship building

Lake pic and in the distance the cross

Model A we encountered at Newfound Gap

One of the hundreds of roses along the "Rose Walk"

Buddy Crumpracker the man "who makes it happen"our friend.
Organ pipes on the wall of our registration area.

No comments: