Counselor's Corner

The young and the old teach us

Fred Cavaiani

This past Saturday I facilitated a retreat for 24 people. It was for a church choir that wanted to experience a sense of renewal about what they do: singing and playing music for their local parish. The age of this group ranged from 16 years to 86 years. We did a lot sharing throughout the day. I was quite moved by the profound and beautiful sharing of the very young and the very old. Both were filled with such wise and refreshing insights of the power of music to influence people. Tears flowed freely as each member of this loveable group shared their own experiences about life, song, music and spirituality. Everyone left the day feeling renewed and refreshed and with a deeper appreciation of what it meant to be in a church choir. It was a day where these very loveable women and men influenced each other in such an honest, simple and humble manner. They emotionally and spiritually nurtured one another.

Whenever we listen to the young at heart and old in body and to the young in body but wise in heart we improve the emotional and spiritual quality of our lives. The struggle is finding the time and atmosphere to listen to one another. During this day I listened to a woman from Belgium relate her experiences of World War II and then I heard a 20-year-old young lady, who had no idea about WWII, describe her experiences of being deprived of having music in her life. Both stories were full of wisdom and insight.

As this day progressed everyone in this group of 24 spoke about what it meant for them to sing in a choir. What a joy to listen to these men and women of all ages and backgrounds. I was mesmerized by their depth and clear manner of presenting their thoughts and feelings. The open hearts and minds this group had with each other created a positive energy between everyone. This became a day when the young taught the old and the old taught the young. It wasn’t because one had more knowledge than the other. It was because each person shared from their own personal experiences. It had become a day of sharing emotions, dreams and ideals ….. but not from some intellectual conceptual level. It was from an honest emotional level of sharing from the heart. When sharing from the heart happens, amazing positive feelings emerge within a group of people and hope emerges surrounded with love and positive strength.
The young with their freshness and honesty energize us. The old with their life experiences of pain and struggle and perseverance inspire us to stay the course. We are so fortunate when we share with one another. We are so blessed when we listen to one another. Life itself becomes energizing, hopeful and spiritual when we share what is deep inside of us without criticizing, analyzing or preaching. When I can tell you with loving honesty who I am and what I am about I allow you to get to know me. Then you have the freedom to tell me who you are and what you are about. We feel safe and we feel connected. The young teach the old and the old teach the young. And together we go forward immersed in love and hope.

I left this wonderful group on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 3 p.m. after having been with this magnificent group for six hours, immersed in love and hope and a deep sense of peace and joy. What a privilege to be with the young and the old. They taught me so very much.

As I drove home I realized that every person has a chance to experience this every day. It simply starts with a decision to share honestly with you who I am and what I am about. We live and move and have our existence with the young and the old every day of our lives. But seldom do we get a chance to connect from the heart with each other. I think it is because we are afraid to take the chance to start the process of sharing who we are with one another. A Day of Retreat can help us to start this process. We get so much back when we take the chance to share our own personal selves with one another.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage and family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy.  He can be reached at (248) 362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is


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