Thriving in the Last Third of Life
Suddenly, we are old. We didn’t expect it to happen this soon. We don’t feel as old as we thought we were going to feel when we got old. But we look into the mirror and see our mother’s face. There are wrinkles around our necks; our arms are flabby. Our hair is thinning. We really don’t have as much energy as we used to have.
And we ask ourselves, “Is this it? Am I done? Is what I have contributed all I am going to contribute? Was it enough?”
In our society there is a new emphasis on aging. The “boomers” have passed 65 and are retiring. We are the fastest growing segment in our economy, we are told. Television ads portray us as the “new young”; gray-haired and crisply-dressed, we are supposed to be taking cruises and reading to beautiful grandchildren and hiking Mt. Everest just to prove we can. But only if you have the health and money to do that. And most of us don’t.
And what about our souls? In her book The Gift of Years, Joan Chittister says: “What [the study of] gerontology is lacking is the awareness of the spiritual dimension of the only part of life that gives us the resources we need to make a long-term evaluation of the nature and meaning of life itself. In fact, as the physical dimension of life diminishes, the spiritual dimension commonly increases.”
Frankly, it is a mistake to see the signs of aging as indications of dying rather than as invitations into a deeper way of life. These are the years when we have the time to look deeply at our relationship with God, to finally live into all that God is calling us to become, and to see these years as blessings rather than burdens.
So how do we navigate this season? How do we offer our experience as wisdom for those coming after us and at the same time make sacred the diminishments that are bound to come upon us? How do we walk this journey in the deepest conviction that our God walks with us?
We offer this course as a guide to an intentional process of spiritual formation for those of us in the last third of our lives. We will read essays, reflections, and poetry from respected writers who themselves are in the last third of their lives, then reflect on how their wisdom intersects with our own lives. We will engage in small-group conversations in safe settings and learn from each other and our own souls. We will give joyful thanks for our lives and walk with each other through the hard stuff of our current situations. We will build a community as we walk this path together.
We lovingly and prayerfully invite you to join us.
About the facilitators
About small-group conversations.