Hans heard the remark of this deaconess as far more than polite words-he took

them to heart and considered them part of his resiliency. Better than money, he

believes, are the people who support you spiritually-“this community, these

people.” Hans clearly saw his congregational sisters and brothers as God’s gift, as

part of the resources he needs when he is a “little stretched.” For all the elders we

met, to varying degrees, the experience of meaningful interactions with other

people, over the course of many years, was at the heart of their spiritual resiliency.

Although more dominant in the women’s narratives, this relational support is a

crucial theme that appeared numerous times in all the stories, for both genders.