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In the Arms of Elders
A Parable of Wise Leadership and Community Building
by William H. Thomas, M.D.

From the Prologue

When I was a boy, my eyes were open to the magic that fills this world. I knew that if I jumped high enough, I could touch the sun, the moon, and the stars. They belonged to me and I loved them. I was a daydreamer and I exasperated my teachers. My report cards were laced with poor grades and expressions of faculty frustration. “Does not pay attention in class.” “Does not come to class prepared.” “Fails to use time wisely.” “This student,” one teacher wrote, “isn’t living up to his potential.”
I’d like to say that I bravely defied their calls for conformity, but I was weak. A child’s imagination is no match for adults armed with good intentions. They convinced me that my sun was a blast furnace, my moon a cold, dead rock, and that the stars lay far beyond my reach. I was cleansed of my childish errors. The magic disappeared.
Ultimately, I embraced their faith in the majesty of science, and as converts often do, I became a fanatic. I earned a bachelor of science degree in biology, summa cum laude, and then a medical degree from Harvard. As a young physician, I believed that science could conquer all. Every corner of the human body, every crevice of the Earth, even the farthest reaches of the cosmos would yield their secrets to the scientific method, I was sure of this. The only real question was how long it would take.
This carefully constructed confidence is gone now. Shattered. Washed away. My wife Jude and I had anticipated productive but commonplace lives when we married. Instead, we were torn from this world and transported by forces beyond our understanding to and from a place where the magic I knew as a child still lives in people’s hearts. Our old life, the people we were, the person I was taught to be—all of that is gone. I can not say that I am sorry.
No scientist will ever be able to explain the journey we made. There is no rational argument that can be stretched to fit such extraordinary facts. We entered, lived in for a year, and learned to love a land called Kallimos. We trod its paths, worked its soil, breathed its air, and drank its water. The desire to return to Kallimos has burned in our hearts since the night we left its shores. We want what we cannot have.
How we were chosen to visit this secret land, we do not know. I now understand, though, why we were sent there. The gentle souls of Kallimos gave us what we needed most, instruction in the art of repairing the world. They opened our hearts, our minds and our eyes. They showed us how to live. Upon returning to this world, we continued to follow their example. Our successful but sterile careers as experts in the field of aging were abandoned and we threw ourselves into the far more fulfilling work of building a better world for our elders—and ourselves.
What about you, gentle reader? Have you ever hoped, ever dreamed, of something more than a job? Do days, weeks, and months of hard, and too often unrewarding, effort stretch out before you? Does your heart of hearts still cherish a dream of changing the world?