“If we prepare ourselves with enduring things like nature, art, friends, and love for people, we will grow old gracefully.”
In this sermon, delivered on February 16, 1969, Rabbi Olan meditates on what we need to do in order to grow old “gracefully”. First, he reminds us that our bodies will change with age, and recommends moderation in exercise rather than inactivity, as well as moderation in diet.
Rabbi Olan warns that aging in itself does not confer wisdom; wisdom must be cultivated. For example, rather than trying to control their children, the old must respect the independence of the young.
He assures us that old people can still make important contributions to society. He cites the example of a retired business executive who used his skills to find ways for other retired people to continue to be useful.
Finally, Rabbi Olan says that “to have a graceful old age, a person must have hammered out in his younger years a faith adequate for it”. It is faith which teaches that we are part of a “vast pageant” that will endure long after we are gone. This is the knowledge that will enable us to age with serenity, so that we can “do good, speak the truth, and love the beautiful”.
*Written by Lionel S. Joseph and Frances M. Olan*