An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


The North Star Found in the Stories of our Elders

asian couple

Today we feel in the swirl of anger and chaos and fear without a map or a compass. One might ask, “Where is the North Star to guide us, to lead us to safety, to a new way, to a healthier society and world?”

Often, looking to history can help us to find the strength and courage, values and vision to move with hope into the next day and the future. We might find a North Star of direction when we still ourselves and call or sit down with an elderly mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle or neighbor.

The elderly are carriers of so many stories of struggles, failures and triumphs. There is an opportunity especially now to enter into those stories with them. They might say that they have never experienced anything like what is going on now. They might say that the pain of today is centuries old and now perhaps there is a chance for change. They might speak about their own or their parents’ survival of malaria or smallpox or brutal oppression. What better way to respect and honor their struggles?

We might hear them say, “No one wants to hear about that!" or, “It’s too painful to tell,” or, silence.  Even if the relationship with the elder was difficult, even painful, perhaps the asking itself, is its own North Star?

Perhaps, if we are fortunate, through their stories, the struggles and perseverance of their lives, we might find clarity, courage and direction in our own. We might honor them by carrying on their legacy.