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92-year-old’s poem on aging shines light on how we should live our lives

Cerith Gardiner - published on 01/28/19

Wanda Goines lived her life to the full and left behind a poem to inspire us all.

In 2015, a 92-year-old lady, Wanda Goines, made a huge statement when she sat in a chair and narrated her poem, “The Gift-Wrap & The Jewel.” The touching poem not only strikes a chord but reminds us of what we’re all here for. The mother of a large family used her very rich — and very long! — life experience to teach us to look at the aging process with fresh eyes. And, in fact, to embrace it.

If you haven’t already heard the poem then you’re in for a real treat. We won’t spoil it for you, so just click on the video below to listen to the poet recite her very poignant and powerful words in her own voice. (We’ve also got a copy of the poem written out for you so you can take your time to soak up her wise words.)

And when you’ve listened to the poem and realized we’re all a collection of God’s jewels just needing a polish, you might want to read up on the fascinating life of Goines, who was married to Warren Goines for 58 years. She was also a qualified architect, and a keen dancer who taught herself New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew. The talented artist also learned German and Latin and taught Bible classes — all on top of raising her eight children!

During a university reunion, at the age of 70, Wanda shared an impressive list of her life’s highlights. Along with her family, she spoke of meeting “Jesus Christ as her savior” at the age of 25. Her faith guided her throughout her adult life and inspired her in her artwork and poems. If you look on her website you’ll see a collection of her impressive works.

Goines died a year after her poem became an internet success, a few days before her 93rd birthday. There is no doubt that this particular jewel will be shining brightly for eternity.

“The Gift-Wrap & The Jewel”
by Wanda B. Goines
I looked in the mirror and what did I see,
but a little old lady peering back at me
With bags and sags and wrinkles and wispy white hair,
and I asked my reflection,
How did you get there?”
You once were straight and vigorous and now you’re stooped and weak,
when I tried so hard to keep you from becoming an antique
My reflection’s eyes twinkled as she solemnly replied,
you’re looking at the gift wrap and not the jewel inside
A living gem and precious, of unimagined worth
Unique and true, the real you, the only you on earth
The years that spoil your gift-wrap with other things more cruel,
should purify and strengthen, and polish up that jewel
So focus your attention on the inside, not the out
On being kinder, wiser, more content and more devout
Then, when your gift-wrap’s stripped away your jewel will be set free,
to radiate God’s glory throughout eternity.


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