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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Centenarian Woman Thanks God and Deputies Who Defied Court Order to Evict

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Vinia Hall, 103"I knew that they know what they were doing. God don’t let them do wrong."
~Vinia Hall

Here’s one of those feel-good stories that makes you smile for human decency and feel a little bit sad knowing that this act of kindness may be an exception. On Tuesday, WSB Channel 2 in Atlanta reported that Vinia Hall, a 103-year-old woman, and her 83-year-old daughter were about to be evicted from her home when deputies of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and hired movers defied a court order to evict the two from their foreclosed home in northwest Atlanta.

For the purposes of this project, take note of the strong expressions of faith in God “making it right” and citations of the Bible, by Ms. Hall and also by a neighbor and community activist too.

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"Last Visit"
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The photo above was taken and submitted by John Pusey with only the words you see above: “last visit.” The two men seen so relaxed and familiar with one another and I wanted to know more. In reply, John wrote:

"This is a photo of my father and my son shortly before my father passed away. Even with Alzheimer’s, he retained his love of music until his death at 83. He was the first in the family to realize that my son is a truly talented musician."

Once an academic and youth development advisor, John is now retired and lives in Bonny Doon, California. In honor of his father’s love of music, he currently does volunteer work for a non-profit organization that provides era-appropriate music to seniors living in convalescent hospitals.
"Last Visit"
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The photo above was taken and submitted by John Pusey with only the words you see above: “last visit.” The two men seen so relaxed and familiar with one another and I wanted to know more. In reply, John wrote:

"This is a photo of my father and my son shortly before my father passed away. Even with Alzheimer’s, he retained his love of music until his death at 83. He was the first in the family to realize that my son is a truly talented musician."

Once an academic and youth development advisor, John is now retired and lives in Bonny Doon, California. In honor of his father’s love of music, he currently does volunteer work for a non-profit organization that provides era-appropriate music to seniors living in convalescent hospitals.

"Last Visit"

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

The photo above was taken and submitted by John Pusey with only the words you see above: “last visit.” The two men seen so relaxed and familiar with one another and I wanted to know more. In reply, John wrote:

"This is a photo of my father and my son shortly before my father passed away. Even with Alzheimer’s, he retained his love of music until his death at 83. He was the first in the family to realize that my son is a truly talented musician."

John PuseyOnce an academic and youth development advisor, John is now retired and lives in Bonny Doon, California. In honor of his father’s love of music, he currently does volunteer work for a non-profit organization that provides era-appropriate music to seniors living in convalescent hospitals.

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An Image We Loved That Didn’t Make the Cut
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Searching for a lead image for our show “The Far Shore of Aging” with Jane Gross, I happened upon this fabulous photograph titled “Late adventures at Arco de São Jorge.” The dynamic nature of the composition of elderly people walking in the surf coupled with the saturated colors is exquisite. And the juxtaposition of a vibrant, healthy couple navigating the rocky shores with the need of a balancing stick illustrates their vitality and fragility all at once. Oh, and don’t you just love that splash of red of the lady’s bathing suit!
Nevertheless, I decided against using this photo because it was too “easy” for our purposes. This photo would’ve represented more of an idea rather than the grounded intimacy of an aging, fully sentient human being. Here, we’re looking at their backs, but we never see their faces, which perhaps compels us to think of far-off ideas and themes. All quite lovely, but, as it relates the subject matter of Krista’s conversation with Jane Gross, too abstract. 
I wanted the viewer to embrace the face and the eyes, the deep intimacy of a person who is not one of the “elderly” but an individual who remains vibrant and changing, that individual’s relationship to the caregiver, and a sense of the caregiver’s pain and love, frustration and anger. 
(photo: alex@Tlön/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
(via beingvisual)
An Image We Loved That Didn’t Make the Cut
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Searching for a lead image for our show “The Far Shore of Aging” with Jane Gross, I happened upon this fabulous photograph titled “Late adventures at Arco de São Jorge.” The dynamic nature of the composition of elderly people walking in the surf coupled with the saturated colors is exquisite. And the juxtaposition of a vibrant, healthy couple navigating the rocky shores with the need of a balancing stick illustrates their vitality and fragility all at once. Oh, and don’t you just love that splash of red of the lady’s bathing suit!
Nevertheless, I decided against using this photo because it was too “easy” for our purposes. This photo would’ve represented more of an idea rather than the grounded intimacy of an aging, fully sentient human being. Here, we’re looking at their backs, but we never see their faces, which perhaps compels us to think of far-off ideas and themes. All quite lovely, but, as it relates the subject matter of Krista’s conversation with Jane Gross, too abstract. 
I wanted the viewer to embrace the face and the eyes, the deep intimacy of a person who is not one of the “elderly” but an individual who remains vibrant and changing, that individual’s relationship to the caregiver, and a sense of the caregiver’s pain and love, frustration and anger. 
(photo: alex@Tlön/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
(via beingvisual)

An Image We Loved That Didn’t Make the Cut

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Searching for a lead image for our show “The Far Shore of Aging” with Jane Gross, I happened upon this fabulous photograph titled “Late adventures at Arco de São Jorge.” The dynamic nature of the composition of elderly people walking in the surf coupled with the saturated colors is exquisite. And the juxtaposition of a vibrant, healthy couple navigating the rocky shores with the need of a balancing stick illustrates their vitality and fragility all at once. Oh, and don’t you just love that splash of red of the lady’s bathing suit!

Nevertheless, I decided against using this photo because it was too “easy” for our purposes. This photo would’ve represented more of an idea rather than the grounded intimacy of an aging, fully sentient human being. Here, we’re looking at their backs, but we never see their faces, which perhaps compels us to think of far-off ideas and themes. All quite lovely, but, as it relates the subject matter of Krista’s conversation with Jane Gross, too abstract. 

I wanted the viewer to embrace the face and the eyes, the deep intimacy of a person who is not one of the “elderly” but an individual who remains vibrant and changing, that individual’s relationship to the caregiver, and a sense of the caregiver’s pain and love, frustration and anger. 

(photo: alex@Tlön/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

(via beingvisual)

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The Oldest Living Canadian
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Sum Ying Fung, who is believed to be Canada’s oldest living citizen, is 112 today. Some of my favorite interviews lately have come from our older guests such as Joanna Macy and Vincent Harding. There is so much to learn from our elder generations, and I sure hope  someone has taken the time to record her voice, her stories, her  experiences, her wisdom for generations to come.
And, this story from The Vancouver Sun might bring a smile to your face:

"In 1989 she had a brain tumour, which she and her doctors were reluctant to treat, Barry Fung said.
'After  visiting several neurosurgeons, they all said she was too old to  operate on, and that she’s “had a good life anyways.”’ Fung said. 'All  that is, except for a Dr. Donald Griesdale, who said that with all the  family support around my grandma, how could he not give it a try?'”

[via The Vancouver Sun]
The Oldest Living Canadian
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Sum Ying Fung, who is believed to be Canada’s oldest living citizen, is 112 today. Some of my favorite interviews lately have come from our older guests such as Joanna Macy and Vincent Harding. There is so much to learn from our elder generations, and I sure hope  someone has taken the time to record her voice, her stories, her  experiences, her wisdom for generations to come.
And, this story from The Vancouver Sun might bring a smile to your face:

"In 1989 she had a brain tumour, which she and her doctors were reluctant to treat, Barry Fung said.
'After  visiting several neurosurgeons, they all said she was too old to  operate on, and that she’s “had a good life anyways.”’ Fung said. 'All  that is, except for a Dr. Donald Griesdale, who said that with all the  family support around my grandma, how could he not give it a try?'”

[via The Vancouver Sun]

The Oldest Living Canadian

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Sum Ying Fung, who is believed to be Canada’s oldest living citizen, is 112 today. Some of my favorite interviews lately have come from our older guests such as Joanna Macy and Vincent Harding. There is so much to learn from our elder generations, and I sure hope someone has taken the time to record her voice, her stories, her experiences, her wisdom for generations to come.

And, this story from The Vancouver Sun might bring a smile to your face:

"In 1989 she had a brain tumour, which she and her doctors were reluctant to treat, Barry Fung said.

'After visiting several neurosurgeons, they all said she was too old to operate on, and that she’s “had a good life anyways.”’ Fung said. 'All that is, except for a Dr. Donald Griesdale, who said that with all the family support around my grandma, how could he not give it a try?'”

[via The Vancouver Sun]

Tagged: #elderly #Canada
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As We Age, Do We Turn Our Backs on the Elderly?

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

The Spiritual Audacity of Abraham Joshua HeschelLast week I retweeted an article about the booming industry of cosmetic surgery in Saudi Arabia, and whether it’s halal or haram. And then, last night, I watched a roast for the 76-year-old comedian Joan Rivers on Comedy Central. Almost all the comedians focused their acts on her many facial reconstructions and sundry plastic surgeries. Yes, the barbs were brutal, but it jogged my memory about Rabbi A.J. Heschel's words about our growing vanity and narcissism and how it separates us from others, from ourselves, and even from God.

As we focus increasingly on ourselves, who do we leave behind, abandon? Heschel reflects on this in his essay “To Grow in Wisdom,” which was initially delivered at the 1961 White House Conference on Aging (yes, they still occur). It knocked me out in the first several paragraphs, talking about the idolatry of youth and the disregard for the elderly. His words couldn’t have been more prescient, and personally challenging:

"I see the sick and the despised, the defeated and the bitter, the rejected and the lonely. I see them clustered together and alone, clinging to a hope for somebody’s affection that does not come to pass. I hear them pray for the release that comes with death. I see them deprived and forgotten, masters yesterday, outcasts today.

What we owe the old is reverence, but all they ask for is consideration, attention, not to be discarded and forgotten. What they deserve is preference, yet we do not even grant them equality. One father finds it possible to sustain a dozen children, yet a dozen children find it impossible to sustain one father.

Perhaps this is the most distressing aspect of the situation. The care for the old is regarded as an act of charity rather than as a supreme privilege. In the never dying utterance of the Ten Commandments, the God of Israel did not proclaim: Honor Me, Revere Me. He proclaimed instead: Revere your father and your mother. There is no reverence for God without reverence for father and mother.

In Jewish tradition the honor for father and mother is a commandment, the perfect fulfillment of which surpasses the power of man. There is no limit to what one ought to do in carrying out this privilege of devotion. God is invisible, but my mother is His presence….”

Heschel’s book of essays, The Insecurity of Freedom, contain many of these kinds of reflection. It’s a wonderful introduction to his thought and poetic approach to life and faith. If you’ve been wanting to read him but were daunted by The Prophets — or even if you’ve never heard of him before — I highly recommend revisiting his relevant outlook on the society he saw developing before his very eyes.

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