Gathered Wisdom, Sept 21

A weekly curated collection of essays, poetry, and reflections for your spiritual journey.  From The Wisdom Years.

The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let dead things go.
– Author unknown

This week:

  • Today is World Gratitude Day
  • Dance With Life
  • How to Age Gracefully
  • Commandments for the Long Haul
  • “Death Doulas” Provide Aid at the End of Life

Today is World Gratitude Day

Diana Butler Bass reflects on how the practice of gratitude got her through the past 18 months. She writes, “Gratitude is resilience of sorts, the defiance of kindness in the face of anger, of connection in the face of division, and of hope in the face of fear. “ 

Read the reflection.

From The Cottage.

Dance with Life

“If we can just take the intelligence we have and temper it with wisdom . . .” In this lovely video from Green Renaissance, Sue Swain dances with trees and reminds us that “we have been blessed with an incredible planetary home.” 

Watch the video.

From A Network for Grateful Living.

How to Age Gracefully

Writing in the New York Times, author Jane Brody makes some decisions about aging. She has stopped dying her gray hair and using makeup. “Wrinkles be damned. I’m proud to have them.”

Read the article.

The New York Times.

Commandments for the Long Haul

Fr. Ron Rolheiser of Oblate Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, offers some practices for living long lives of faithfulness: “Give yourself permission to be inadequate.” “Be sufficiently loving and critical at the same time.”

Read the rest of them.

From the blog of Ron Rolheiser.

“Death Doulas” Provide Aid at the End of Life

While we spend a lot of time preparing for a birth, as a society we shy away from discussing death or preparing for it emotionally and spiritually. Hence the rising interest in end-of-life or “death”doulas who become companions to the dying, sitting with them, listening to them, helping them write their life stories and plan their own end-of-life memorials. 

Read more about “end-of-life” doulas.

Found in Daily Good.

Gathered Wisdom is an offering of The Wisdom Years, a ministry devoted to the spiritual journey of the last third of our lives.

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Gathered Wisdom, Sept 14

A weekly curated collection of essays, poetry, and reflections for your spiritual journey.  From The Wisdom Years.

We seek perfection in our days, always wanting more for ourselves and our lives, and striving for goals unattainable . . .
Where does it come from, this strange unquenchable human urge for “more”? . . .
Learn to value the small as well as the great.

-Kent Nerburn, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life

Found in Well for the Journey Daily Faith Reflections, September 8, 2021

This week:

  • Encountering God in Everyday Life
  • When You’re Afraid to Get in the Boat Who Soothes You?
  • How Small Moments of Empathy Affect Your Life
  • Participating in Original Goodness
  • Fire

Encountering God in Our Everyday Life

Many of the spiritual disciplines are like taking out the trash, says Joanna Seibert. The disciplines “are simply to clear our minds so we can hear God speak to our lives.” 

Read the rest of the reflection.

Found in  Joanna Seibert’s Daily Something.

When you’re afraid to get into the boat who soothes your fear?

“ I DON’T WANT TO GO” screamed the little boy who really didn’t want to get into the boat. The boy’s dad was beyond coping, but Grandpa could step in calmly with a fresh voice and fresh love. Everybody needs a grandpa.

Read or listen to the reflection from Heather Plett

More about Heather Plett.

How Small Moments of Empathy Affect your Life

On average, a person receives about nine opportunities to empathize with others and about six opportunities to receive empathy in a 12-hour period of daily life. Studies show that people who are empathetic are more likely to be generous and altruistic and less likely to be prejudiced against others. So what does that mean for our everyday lives?

Read the article by Jill Suttie.

Found in Daily Good.

Participating in Original Goodness

Everyone and every thing is created in the “image of God,” says Fr. Richard Rohr. Our part is to participate in this core identity by saying yes to it. Image must become likeness.

Read the full reflection.

Found in Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation from Center for Action and Contemplation.

Fire

A poem from Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.

Read or listen to the entire poem.

Found in Awakin. 

Gathered Wisdom is an offering of The Wisdom Years, a ministry devoted to the spiritual journey of the last third of our lives.

If this post was forwarded to you, sign up to receive Gathered Wisdom in your email by subscribing at wisdomyears.org.

To learn more visit our website.

Our Fall Book Discussion Starts Sept. 9

Time to order your book and reserve your space.

September 9 through October 28, 2021
Thursdays, 4 to 5:15 p.m. (Central time)

“In a world of speed and distraction, pace of guidance invites us to combine the practices of measured movement and listening.” – Christina Baldwin, from The Seven Whispers

In The Seven Whispers, our fall discussion book, author Christina Baldwin invites us to clear away the clutter and seek the inner voice of wisdom from our own souls. Through seven phrases or whispers, we will find that it is our souls that connect with the Spirit and can teach us much.

Baldwin is a pioneer in the circle method of learning, through which participants claim their own discoveries and insights, a model The Wisdom Years follows.

Discussion sessions will meet by Zoom on Thursdays at 4 p.m (Central time) for 8 weeks. Participants will need to buy The Seven Whispers by Christina Baldwin. To purchase from St. Mark’s Bookstore, an independent bookstore affiliated with Episcopal Booksellers Association, visit St. Mark’s Bookstore or contact Carla Pineda.

To save your space in the book discussion, or for more information, send an email to Marjorie George at marjoriegeorge62@gmail.com. There is no charge for the study. If you need financial assistance to purchase a book, do not hesitate to contact us. There is scholarship money available.

For more details about this book discussion, see this page.

Gathered Wisdom, Aug 24, 2021

A weekly curated collection of essays, poetry, and reflections for your spiritual journey.  From The Wisdom Years.

The healing of our present woundedness may lie in recognizing and reclaiming the capacity
we all have to heal each other,
the enormous power in the simplest of human relationships:
the strength of a touch,
the blessing of forgiveness,
the grace of someone else taking you just as you are
and finding in you an unsuspected goodness.

-Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom

From Well for the Journey. Thought for the Day, Aug 13, 2021

This Week:

  • Is there More Kindness or Evil in Our World?
  • Letting there be Room for All of This
  • Dad talks about COVID
  • My Enemy is My Friend
  • On the Edge

Is There More Kindness or Evil in Our World?

If there are more good people than evil people in the world, why do we feel so overcome by tragedy and destruction right now? Maybe it’s because we don’t notice the kind acts all around us. From Daily Something by Joanna Seibert, Aug 22, 2021 

Read the meditation.

More from Joanna Seibert.

Letting there be Room for All of This

If we could only fix the problem or find a solution everything would be OK, we think. But we can’t, and maybe we shouldn’t. At least for a while.  Maybe recognizing the uncertainty with which we live is how we get through. By Courtney E. Martin In The Examined Family.

Read the essay.

More from Courtney Martin.

My 94-Year-Old Dad Talks About COVID 19

Writer Abbey Algiers wondered how her father, who lived through World War II and polio, compared those traumas to the one we are in today. So she interviewed him. From Daily Good, Aug. 21, 2021

Read the article.

More Daily Good

My Enemy is Now My Friend

What happened between the Palestinian woman and the Israeli woman after the conference was much more important than what was agreed to during the conference. Read this piece by Joan Chittister in the current issue of Kolbe Times

Read it.

This edition of Kolbe Times focuses on peace and justice with several good articles worth reading. Find it here.

On the Edge

She found herself at the edge of the mountain, and she is deathly afraid of heights. Then she remembered a conversation with Archbishop Rowan Williams who said that the hope for the church is to be found at the edges. We are all on the edge just now.

By Diana Butler Bass. 

Read it.

More from The Cottage by Diana Butler Bass

Gathered Wisdom is from The Wisdom Years, a ministry that invites older adults to deepening spirituality in the last third of their lives. If someone forwarded this to you, learn more about The Wisdom Years and subscribe to the site at ww.wisdomyears.org. Or send an email to Marjorie George at marjoriegeorge62@gmail.com

Our Fall Book Discussion – The Seven Whispers

September 9 through October 28, 2021

Thursdays, 4 to 5:15 p.m. (Central time)

Most of us thought we would be done with Covid by now, and yet we find the virus surging and strong reactions continuing to tear apart our communities. Discussing how we foster peace of mind through these disheartening times may be the welcome respite we need.

In The Seven Whispers, author Christina Baldwin invites us to clear away the clutter and seek the inner voice of wisdom from our own souls. Through seven phrases or whispers, we will find that it is our souls that connect with the Spirit and can teach us much.

Baldwin is a pioneer in the circle method of learning, through which participants claim their own discoveries and insights, a model The Wisdom Years follows.

Discussion sessions will meet by Zoom on Thursdays at 4 p.m (Central time) for 8 weeks. Participants will need to buy The Seven Whispers by Christina Baldwin. To purchase from St. Mark’s Bookstore, an independent bookstore affiliated with Episcopal Booksellers Association, visit St. Mark’s Bookstore or contact Carla Pineda.

To save your space in the book discussion, or for more information send an email to Marjorie George at marjoriegeorge62@gmail.com. There is no charge for the study.

For more details about this book discussion, see this page.

Gathered Wisdom

August 3, 2021

A weekly curated collection of essays, poetry, and reflections for your spiritual journey.  From The Wisdom Years.

Not an Option

Surrender is not an option. I cannot imagine giving up my faith In the real presence of a loving Sprit who is with us on this long walk we call life. I know goodness is there, kindness is there, compassion is there, no matter how final the triumph of fear may seem nor how great the power that holds the  human heart down. I will not abandon my belief in the coming dawn just because I dwell in the midnight hour. All the more reason to proclaim hope when hope is scarce among the waiting crowd. All the more reason to keep singing, to keep working, and to keep helping the wounded to walk. Surrender is not an option – not for those of use who have seen the light to come. – from Bishop Steven Charleston. Bishop Charleston is a Native American elder who also serves as a bishop in The Episcopal Church. This selection is from his book Ladder to the Light (Broadleaf Books, 2021). 

This week:

  • An amazing video of children coming together to sing “We Are the World”
  • Why are we afraid of solitude? – words from Richard Foster
  • How do you hear God? – listening like Samuel did
  • New on our website – we’ve added some pages

From the mouths of . . .

All 500 students from Clarksville Elementary School in Indiana worked with their music teacher over the course of the pandemic school year to create this heartwarming music video to showcase their talents and to bring smiles to the world. The exuberance and enthusiasm of these young singers remind us that they are the world, they are the future, and we can all make a better day when we stand together as one. Watch the video.  From Daily Good.

Facing the Fear of Solitude

Richard Foster

Why are we so afraid of solitude? Is it that we might find ourselves wanting in the company of God? Or do we believe the world really can’t get along with us, even for a short time? Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline and founder of Renovare, offers thoughts about solitude along with several short practices for entering into it.  Read the essay. From Renovare.

Listening to God

Brother David Vryhof

“The voice of God is a persistent voice; it’s a voice that comes to us not just once (lest we should miss it) but again and again, until at last we are ready to grasp its meaning and respond to its call. So often, when we finally arrive at a place of clarity, we recognize that this call has not come to us in an instant, but has been gradually growing inside us and has finally come to its fullness.” Brother David looks at the call of Samuel as a way we might really (yes, really) hear the voice of God. 
Brother David is a member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist.
Read or listen to the entire essay. Learn more about SSJE. 

New from our website

Three new pages from The Wisdom Years website that offer wisdom for the spiritual journey in the last third of life. All include a reflection plus resources for your own investigation.

Becoming Elders – In her book The Grace in Aging, Kathleen Dowling Singh calls elders to be placeholders in society. “There is no more noble way to spend these years,” she says, “than to become an elder, to bear witness to the world as placeholders for peace, love, wisdom, and fearlessness” Read more.

Crossing Thresholds – Some thresholds are predictable and even chosen; others are thrust upon us – retirement, end of a marriage, loss of a relationship. All invite us to stop and consider rather than rush through the time of change. Read more.

Passing on the Blessing – Old Elizabeth can speak to young Mary about that which Elizabeth has witnessed over her long life: that God will reveal God’s self in the communion of two people coming together seeking God’s blessing. Read more.

Gathered Wisdom is an offering of The Wisdom Years, a ministry devoted to the spiritual journey of the last third of our lives. Sign up to subscribe to Gathered Wisdom at wisdomyears.org. Learn more about us at The Wisdom Years. Or send an email to Marjorie George at marjoriegeorge62@gmail.com.

Now is the Time for Elders

by Paul Pineda

After the chaos and the incessant bombardment of twenty-four-hour news has rained upon us, it is time for us elders to assume our place in this time.  Our loved ones are frightened by the pandemic at our doorstep.

Our people need our wisdom that comes from having lived through our own personal and communal experiences.  In their song Grandpa, Tell me ‘bout the Good Old Days, the Judds ask not for hard facts but about what gave people hope.

Children are asking older siblings, and they are asking their parents.  And parents are looking to us to share of what we remember.  And what we remember was the communal fear and, most importantly, we share the communal sense of relief as our lives returned to normal in past crises.  

As silly as it may sound, the “truths” that grounded my life as a youngster were three constants: a President (Eisenhower) and a Pope (Pius XII) and a Catholic Bishop in my home town (Garriga).  These men were “in charge,” and all was right in my world.  Yet, within a span of five years (1958-1963), these markers were changed in my universe.

Our country was buffeted about by the turbulent Sixties, with its Vietnam War, and the deaths of Kennedy and King. By the end, I remember feeling wrung out by the battering winds of change.  Natural and man-made disasters have also touched our lives.

I connect the dots of my experiences like a rosary that has been my life.

Yet, I want to believe that whatever wisdom I may have as an elder is having learned by connecting the dots.  I connect the dots of my experiences like a rosary that has been my life.  I do not mean to oversimplify life, but I do know that our fear of the unknown plays a great part in how we respond to difficult news.  If I stop and remember the pieces of my life, as I am able to patch together the sameness in each of these events, I am able to see hope. 

And so, it is in times like this that our purpose as elders is to provide hope for those who may not see their own hope.  We are called upon to teach the ancient wisdom of connecting the dots as a way of saying with Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Paul Pineda is part of the working group that guides the Spirituality for the wisdom Years ministry. Reach Paul at episcopalnfa@gmail.com.

Placeholders

In her book The Grace in Aging, Kathleen Dowling Singh calls elders to be placeholders in society.  “There is no more noble way to spend these years,” she says, “than to become an elder, to bear witness to the world as placeholders for peace, love, wisdom and fearlessness” (pg 24).

And we elders can do that with integrity, I think, because we have the goods to back it up. We have been here before.

I find myself these days wishing that my mother were still alive so I could ask her about rationing in World War II when she had two toddlers and a husband off on a Navy ship somewhere in the Pacific.  I want to know more about the Polio epidemic of the 1940s and 1950s beyond my recollection of standing in line as a 10-year-old to receive a magical vaccine on a sugar cube that had been discovered by Jonas Salk. I only know I could sense the collective and joyous sigh of relief from the parents around me. But what was it like before that, Mom?  What were your fears for your own children?  How did you protect them? 

(Perhaps it is not coincidental that Salk announced his breakthrough on March 26, 1953. Although the vaccine saved millions of lives, Salk did not patent his discovery. In a famous television interview with Edward R. Murrow, when Murrow asked Salk who owns the patent on the vaccine, Salk replied, “Well, the people I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”)

From my own history I recall the frightening days of the Kennedy assassination when my husband and I were living overseas in a country whose language we did not speak because he was in the Air Force. Days when we had no television to give us hourly updates of whatever was happening back home. Days when we worried for our parents and the state of the nation. 

On the bulletin board in my home office I refer more often lately to a clipping from the daily meditations of the Society of St. John the Evangelist: “There have been things in your life that have been dark and difficult and you’ve come through it, given the grace to face it, and are probably stronger and wiser for it . . . Remember from what you have already been saved” (post from Oct 31, 2016).

Remember and tell others. Remember and pray for courage.  Remember and pass on the stories of your own heritage. Harvest your history. Share peace, love, wisdom and fearlessness, even in a time when we elders are the most susceptible to the evil that surrounds us.  Hold a place and open a space for God’s spirit to offer reassurance to those who do not have the gift of long memories as do we. 

Be a placeholder now in whatever way you can.

And may God bless us and save us all.

– Marjorie George

And a special invitation: If you are not already receiving posts from the Diocese of West Texas adult Christian formation site where we are currently posting a study of the psalms, you can subscribe to receive the posts in your email at www.christianformation-dwtx.org.