Elder Wisdom from Tennessee! Great Advice for Living

One of the joys of working on the Legacy Project is learning about similar ideas from around the country. This week, I received an email from Tina Jones, who runs the Spring Street Outreach Program at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, Tennessee  (pictured at right). Assisted by volunteers, Tina brings a group of around 40 low-income elders to the church each month for a hot meal and activities. All of these elders are African-Americans who lived through segregation, integration of the schools and many other significant events in our country’s history.

Tina had the great idea to have the participants offer their “Words of Wisdom” for young people. They created a lovely compilation of lessons from these wise ones, which you can read here. And the project was intergenerational: A group of students at Battle Ground Academy (a middle school in Franklin) helped summarize and present the elders’ advice. 

Here’s a sampling of the advice from several participants:

From Sheila:

People who hide nothing have nothing to hide!

To hate or be angry with someone is like you drinking poison and

wishing that the other person dies.

If you settle for what you got, then you deserve what you have!

Unsolicited advice is nothing more than criticism.

From Thelma:

Get the best education you can; everyone needs to be able to read and write well.

Leave all the bad habits alone (drugs, alcohol, crime, etc.). because they will hurt you later.

Get a job and go to work. It may not be the job you really want; but, if you work hard and people see you are a good worker, you will move ahead and things will get better.

Go to vote in every election. Get into politics to make a better world.

If there is a “black sheep” in the family, remember that his wool is just as important as the others.

From Henry:

Love one another

Learn how to pray

Stay and finish school

Follow your dreams

In the Legacy Project and the book 30 Lessons for Living, we strongly urge everyone to ask the elders in their lives for their lessons for living – before they are gone. Hats off to Tina and the St. John’s Episcopal Church outreach program for this terrific project idea. Why not try sponsoring something like it through your faith community?

2 thoughts on “Elder Wisdom from Tennessee! Great Advice for Living

  1. Great article. Elders should be revered and respected for their wisdom and life experience. I was privileged to have two sets of grand-parents who lived into their 90’s. I cannot begin to explain how sitting at their feet and listening to their stories has benefited me all these years.

  2. I am not a therapist I am a parent it is so evident in your time that each of you invested in these very lengthy post that you are good parents who have done nothing less than your best. I have many issues with both my adult children too and I have come to realize and understand that I spared the rod and spoiled the child, both of them! So I take full accountability. I also take comfort in knowing that I did my very best of my ability I raised them and guided them they always knew mommy was there for them I educated them about life skills respect how to say no to drugs and alcohol and I always told them that as long as they finished high school it did not mater to me if they were a doctor or a pauper as long as they grew to be god decent human. Beings! As far as I’m concerned once they became adult age the choose who they wanted to b and how they wanted to act. While I love both my son and daughter as my children I will continue to not support their disrespect I will not tolerate or accept bad behaviour from them I speak my mind with their. Est interest st heart if they don’t like it or. Slur it or trust it. I think that’s their problem and as adults they need to fix it on gnite home as my opinion is not valued so I have to protect myself. These days I don’t give them an inch and I am experiencing a slow but improved change in their behaviour that’s favorable in building a solid parent adult child relationships. Good luck to all don’t cave in stand for your beliefs be kind and good to each other but always believe in yourself first your kids second!!

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