A number of those participants are still alive and continue to add to the staggering amount of data collected over almost 80 years. Now researchers include DNA testing and MRI scans, procedures unimaginable in 1938. But the studies have gone much further than medical records. Each man has been interviewed and records kept about their education, work life, marriages and social interactions. Parents, wives and offspring have also been interviewed.
Some participants went on to become tradesmen, factory workers, successful businessmen, doctors, lawyers and one, John F Kennedy, became President of the United States, while some developed alcoholism and a couple where diagnosed as schizophrenic.
Almost 80 years of data have brought to light some interesting findings. Waldinger said, “When we gathered together everything we knew about them at age 50, it wasn’t their middle-age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old, it was the quality of their relationships.” Those who had strong and supportive relationships, who felt loved and connected, were found to be physically and mentally healthier at 80.
The data showed that loneliness is toxic and the best way to a healthy and positive old age is to invest in relationship.
I find it interesting that 80 years of scientific data came to the same conclusion that Jesus taught from the beginning, real life is about love in relationship … loving God and all those who come across my path with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.
Jesus came to put flesh and bones on the greatest commandment, to give it eyes to see, ears to hear, mouth to speak and a hands to reach out in love. He poured himself out for the sick, who came for healing, for the crowds who came to be taught, for the widow and the fatherless, and for those who society rejected.
I wonder how Zaccheus felt when Jesus stopped under the Sycamore tree and asked to have dinner with him? I get that he was short and climbed up to get a better view, but maybe it was a safer place, he wasn’t the most popular person in town. I imagine he lived a pretty lonely life. Suddenly here was someone reaching out and wanting his company and it melted his heart.
And the woman found in adultery, threatened with stoning. I can only imagine the depth of gratitude and lightness of heart she experienced as she walked away with Jesus words ringing in her ears, “Neither do I condemn you”.
"Jesus delivered the good news in a rough, messy, hands-on package of donkeys and dusty roads, bleeding women and lepers, water from the well, and wine from the water. Holy work in the world has always been like this: messy, earthy, physical, touchable.” Catherine McNeil.
I fear we are often so busy worrying about correct theology, church activities and 'ministries' or life in the fast lane that we miss the messy, inconvenient and time consuming labour of love God called us to ... the one Jesus demonstrated so simply ... loving the least of these ... then He said, “Follow me”.