The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” Psalm 92: 12015 (NIV)
The purpose of attending Folk School was an attempt to make turning fifty a little easier. It worked. I have said before that appearance and age never mattered much to me, but as 2008 grew closer, I found myself increasingly anxious about reaching a half century. Remembering what an inspiring and peaceful experience I had at my first week of Folk School last year, I knew the best place to celebrate this milestone (if such a thing were possible) was Folk School. At least I could have one last good time before I turned into a wrinkled up worthless old woman. Last fall, I invited several of my dear friends to join me, and four came along. We actually celebrated two fiftieth birthdays, mine and Julie’s. Meals at Folk School are served in a dining hall arranged with large tables that seat eight to ten people. They are more than an opportunity to eat delicious food; they provide a chance to meet very interesting people from all walks of life and all parts of the country. We got to know an attorney who specializes in land and water management in our own state, and her friend who did the same out west on an Indian reservation. We met a professor from a university who blacksmiths as a hobby, and a homemaker who saved for several years to purchase a dulcimer and learn to play it. One after another, we shared our life stories. One day, we sat with a woman and her mother. They were taking the chair caning class, and we talked about what they learned before moving onto families and careers. They were of Irish heritage, and the younger woman had a clear creamy complexion and beautiful long, thick, curly reddish hair. She asked why we had come, and I told her that the week was a way to celebrate our fiftieth birthdays. “Oh, I wish I had thought of that when I turned fifty,” she exclaimed. Patty, Julie and I sat there stunned because we envisioned her as being much younger. Finally Patty blurted out. “Twenty seven. At the most I thought you were twenty seven.” We all nodded in agreement. The woman was pleased we thought her so young. Julie asked, “What is your secret?” “Crest white strips,” she replied. We all broke out in laughter when Julie, very seriously, asked, “Where do you put them?” After a week of meeting such alive and creative people who have refused to let age slow them down and instead are meeting each day with enthusiasm and a desire to learn, how could I look at fifty as a handicap? On the last night that my four friends and I were to be together, we skipped the meal at the dining hall and went to a local restaurant for a celebration of age, accomplishments and endless possibilities for the future. Fifty is just a state of mind. I don’t need any Crest white strips to make me ageless.