Sometimes in the murky waters called the news, one finds a gem. I did last week when I read a story announcing that Jane Goodall had won the 2021 Templeton Prize. Templeton honors the achievements of people “harnessing the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and h
Sometimes in the murky waters called the news, one finds a gem. I did last week when I read a story announcing that Jane Goodall had won the 2021 Templeton Prize. Templeton honors the achievements of people “harnessing the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it.” The $1.5 million award recognized Goodall’s lifetime of work at the intersection of science and spirituality.
Of course, I cheered their choice. What’s not to love about this primatologist, conservationist, environmentalist, and lover of people who has spent decades in service to the planet?
The gem for me came in watching Templeton’s 9-minute video about Goodall and seeing how much light still shines through her eyes. At 87, she gives me hope for the planet as well as for my future.
Creative Commons image by Franz Johann Morgenbesser from VIenna, Austria.
She shared a delightful story about her curiosity as a young child. She asked her family how a hen lays an egg. She wanted to know, “Where is the hole?” No one offered a good enough answer so Goodall decided to wait in the hen house to see for herself. It took four hours for the hen to produce an egg and reward Goodall’s passion for patient observation.
Using that story, she now illustrates the principles that have guided her approach to science for decades:
- Asking questions
- Not getting the right answer
- Deciding to find out for yourself
- Making a mistake
- Not giving up
- Learning patience
Goodall has authored many books and given many talks. Rather than write about her work, I refer you to her own words. Instead, I want to describe a feature that struck me as I looked at her eyes.
It was her radiance.
Radiance is a quality that I see in the faces of many of my eighty-year-old plus friends. (You know who you are!) It comes from an inner light shining through a skin that is becoming more translucent. It reflects soul qualities like peace and purposefulness, curiosity, acceptance, and wonder.
Radiance doesn’t require a charmed life, unmarred bodies, or a peaceful world. Many of us, post-eighty, will experience some level of bodily pain or grief from the inevitable losses that are a natural consequence of a life lived long.
Yet radiance can be one of the gifts available as we age. It doesn’t mean that we all will have, at 87, Goodall’s energy and ability to speak and travel. How our radiance shines will be as individual as we are.
As I approach, (oh my), turning seventy, it’s something I hope to cultivate by recognizing it in others.
Seeing the beauty in others who are aging is a way to find it in ourselves.
In the video, Goodall’s light is so evident. Some of it may come from her faith in the future. She believes that change can come, even if not directly through her hands.
Perhaps that change will come through yours.
I hope you enjoy the video.