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Street Smarts: Never too old to learn

We all have heard the old saying, “You’re never too old to learn,” but my father liked to put a different spin on it. He would often stroke his chin and say jokingly “Learn something new everyday….die and forget it all.” His words came to me today as I made my way to work driving past Salisbury High School and down Fulton Street. In the span of a few miles, I witnessed firsthand that we are never too old or too young to learn.
Over the past few years, I have often written about my experiences teaching the youth music here at St. Luke’s. It is particularly satisfying for me when these students branch out into other areas of music and the fine arts. What amazes me most is the speed at which young children learn and the energy they use in doing so! But there is another generation of people I also come in contact with week after week that are just as eager to learn. These are the people lets say AARP age and above!
Today as I was driving past the high school, I reflected on the learning taking place in that building. Because it was a warm day, some classes were being held outside, and the learning was visible. As I ventured down Fulton Street, I noticed a small child with a white cane. As I was at a stoplight, I noticed that at some distance behind, two adults were coaching the sight-impaired child on how to use the cane to its full advantage. Driving on, I came to the First Baptist Church where I had to stop for a group of seniors crossing the street to board the bus to take them to an all day workshop. Pulling into my parking space at the church, I met one of our parishioners who stopped only long enough to tell me that although now retired, she was busier than ever. I paused for a moment and reflected on my journey. I pondered the blind child and Fulton Street, and suddenly realized, that although I have sight, she could see the street much clearer than I could. Fulton Street has much to teach a person.
Seasons come and go, and each of us in our lifetimes will play many different roles. With the return of spring, the earth is alive with renewal and rebirth. The flowers and trees all seem to be reaching to heaven in an effort to take in the fullness of each warm breeze and ray of sunshine.
So it is with all of us. From the tiniest infants to our oldest members, we are always learning. Whether it is the six-year-old student with a violin, or the senior learning to sing, play, paint or dance, renewal and rebirth are all around us. Through countless years and changing seasons, our earth still remains a vital and fertile ground, welcoming change, and forgiving mistakes. So too the human mind and spirit. And while my father’s assertion that we will die and forget it all may be correct, let us never forget that we are never too old or too young to learn.
Dr. Phillip Burgess is the director of music ministries at St. Luke’s Episcopal church.

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