Dave Andrews

Thankfully Ange and I both had mothers and fathers who were traditional model elders in their respective traditional religious communities. ‘Anthropologist Joan Halifax says elders in traditional societies show us the developmental possibilities of old age. These mature individuals, who have distilled wisdom from experience, have become innocent, clear-seeing, and compassionate.’  

‘Elders serve as storytellers who spin webs of enchanted verbal magic that help people understand their place in the cosmos. “When elders tell us stories, we see through our superficial picture of reality into the deeper meaning of life,” she says. “These sacred stories reconnect us to our depths, revealing our origins, hopes, and destinies.” ‘Through their compassionate relatedness to all of life, they reduce our sense of alienation by helping us rediscover our sacred roots.’

And that is exactly what our mothers and fathers, as our elders, did for us. Ange and I were both brought up in homes  where our parents lived out the ‘sacred story’ of God’s love. Frank and Margaret Andrews and James and Athena Bellas were shining examples of ‘compassionate relatedness to all of life’. As they made time and space for God, they made time and space for the people about whom God passionately cares. ‘So Ange and I have unashamedly, but not slavishly, tried to copy our parents and also tried to set a similar example of divinely inspired, human compassion for our children.’ 

Having benefited from the inspirational example of our parents as elders Ange and I have made it our policy, wherever we have gone, to find other elders twenty years older than us who modelled lives we wanted to be able to emulate in twenty years time. In the early days Charles and Rita Ringma were models Ange and I wanted to be like in twenty years, so we wanted to learn to live our lives as well as they did. We have always thought it was smart to learn from our own mistakes  but wise to learn from elders so as to avoid making as many unnecessary mistakes as possible.  

When we went to Delhi, we met Ray and Gwen Windsor, who adopted us into their wonderful extended family, support-ing us as we settled into the city and providing help whenever we needed it. Ray and Gwen became our elders in Delhi, as Charles and Rita had been our elders in Brisbane. When we came back to Brisbane, we used to meet Frank and Val Garlick regularly every month as friends with similar life-journeys, and over curry they shared the wisdom with us that came from their lives that were well-lived. As Joan Erikson, Erik Erik-son’s partner, said ’When it comes to under-standing life, experiential learning is the only worthwhile kind; everything else is hearsay.’ Frank and Val became our elders in Brisbane, just as Ray and Gwen had been our elders in Delhi.

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