Archives For Aging

 

Entrusted Time.
 
A Review of

Aging Matters: Finding Your Calling for the Rest of Your Life
R. Paul Stevens

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Carolyn Miller Parr

 

 

“I have a serious proposal to make. We should work until we die.” So begins Part One of Aging Matters by R. Paul Stevens (11). This thesis may startle or even anger folks who are looking forward to retirement or those who are enjoying newly gained leisure to travel or play more or just run after grandchildren. But it may comfort others who fear retirement as a loss of self, those who are asking, “When I’m no longer a [pastor/lawyer/corporate officer — fill in the blank] who will I be?” Their only question is How can I keep working?

Continue Reading…

 

Sonnet 2
William Shakespeare

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now,
Will be a tattered weed of small worth held.
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say within thine own deep sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer, “This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,”
Proving his beauty by succession thine.
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

 

If That’s All There Is,
Then Let’s Keep Dancing

A review of

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.
By Richard Rohr

Review by Margaret D’Anieri.

Richard Rohr - FALLING UPWARD Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.
Richard Rohr.
Hardback: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon- Hardback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

“Learn and obey the rules very well, so you will know how to break them properly” (The Dalai Lama).  The thesis of Richard Rohr’s latest book is that spiritual maturity comes only after we’ve lived with the rules and the categories and the knowledge that are necessary to the formation of a self – and then asked ourselves some version of “is that all there is?” The lyrics[i] of this great existential song capture the futility and emptiness of much modern, Western life: We continue to look to experiences, knowledge, status, religion, our own right opinions – even books – to give meaning to our lives. Richard Rohr argues that all of those things that establish our identity are but the starting gate for the spiritual life. Many people never get past establishing and holding on to their identity, and hence never make it past what he calls “the first half of life”. We learn to do only our survival dance, building what Rohr calls a container:

[T]he task of the first half of life is to create a proper container for one’s live and answer the first essential questions: “What makes me significant?” “How can I support myself”? and “Who will go with me?” The task of the second half of life is, quite simply, to find the actual contents that this container was meant to hold and deliver… In other words, the container is not an end in itself, but exists for the sake of your deeper and fullest life, which you largely do not know about yourself! Far too many people just keep doing repair work on the container itself and never “throw their nets into the deep” to bring in the huge catch that awaits them. (emphasis original)

Continue Reading…

 

“The Way It Isn’t”

A Review of

What Love Comes To:
New and Selected Poems

By Ruth Stone

Reviewed by Kendra Langdon Juskus.


What Love  Comes to: Poems - Ruth StoneWhat Love Comes To:
New and Selected Poems

Ruth Stone.
Paperback:  Copper Canyon Press, 2008

New Edition, Dec. 2010.
Buy Now [ Amazon ]

It is dangerous to be a young woman reading an old woman’s poetry. Her words prematurely thrust you into the inevitabilities of life: the tender scars of loss, the wounds of war that open again and again, the disorientation of old age. This foreknowledge can be a liability in your hands, or it can be a gift. Either way, it is what you get reading the poetry of Ruth Stone.

Stone is nearly 96 years old but does not rejoice in her longevity. In fact, it seems a part of her would have rather exited life years ago than persist without the husband she lost in 1959 and whose ghost haunts every poem she has written since. And she has written a lot of poems since.

Living most of those years in some degree of poverty and obscurity hasn’t persuaded Stone to surrender any commitment to her craft or to compromise her vulnerable, brutal, and often sparkling voice for greater fame. The result of her tenacity is an oeuvre of 13 books of poetry; a National Book Award and a Wallace Stevens Award for her 2002 collection, In the Next Galaxy; a National Book Critics Circle Award and two Guggenheim Fellowships; and this latest collection, What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems, which was a 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Continue Reading…

 

“Wisdom for the Ages… And the Aging”

A review of
The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully.

By Joan Chittister.

Reviewed by Michelle Van Loon.

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully.
Joan Chittister.

Hardback: BlueBridge, 2010.

Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

The Gift of Years - Joan ChittisterIf I had been born in 1900, my average life expectancy would have been forty-nine years. Statisticians tell me if I’d been born in 2000, I could expect to live to age eighty. We are living longer, but I’m not sure we understand how to use the gift of these additional years.

Many of us carry negative images of aging: Sunbelt residents living in sprawling condo developments who spend their days golfing and arguing about condo by-laws (think of Jerry’s parents on Seinfeld); sad, shriveled people trapped in permanent longing for their good old days and endlessly rehearsing the saga of their declining physical condition.

Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun who writes and speaks on topics of spiritual formation, justice, and women’s issues, insists that old age is not any of those things. Instead, she explains in The Gift Of Years that old age is a developmental stage rich with both challenge and blessing. Thinking of the retirement years and beyond as the last stage of life presents an incomplete picture of what is happening both inside and around us. In fact, she says, we are entering a new stage of life. Old age is a time to grow, not wither. Chittister writes:

“What is the purpose of all these extra years, the ones out of the systems, beyond the corporate institutions. Is this the dying time? Is it only about waiting to be gone? And if so, how can we possibly face it with any kind of joy, any kind of dignity?…Each period of life has its own purpose. This later one gives me the time to assimilate all the others. The task of this period of life…is not simply to endure the coming of the end of time. It is to come alive in ways I have never been alive before.”

Continue Reading…

 

A Brief Review of

Working with Aging Families:
Therapeutic Solutions for Caregivers, Spouses and  Adult Children
.
Kathleen Piercy.
Hardback: W.W. Norton ,2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Jennifer Price.

As our population includes many more people over the age of 65, we are forced to address the question of how do we take care of aging people?  Our little nuclear families are not always equipped to take care of aging parents and more often other support is needed, physically, mentally and spiritually.  Our families often include step-children and step-parents in a mobile culture which add to the complexity of caring for our families.  This book provides resources for counselors and therapists in navigating the golden years in the outpatient realm.

In order to get a grasp on this challenge, one must start with understanding the family dynamics and the transitions that older people make.  This book offers help in the aging process in the earlier years of aging, as well as the later years.  It offers examples of families who sought out therapy, with challenges such as, how to communicate with a family member or spouse who has MCI (mild cognitive impairment) or lessons in communication in marriage counseling for the later years.  Piercy suggests, that addressing these challenges sometimes involves psycho-educational  seminars at a senior community center for those reluctant to see a therapist. She offers several vivid examples of therapy sessions that demonstrate how people learn to cope, problem solve, and give resources.  Her research is thorough; in coordinating the care of the elderly person’s families she provices resources for various contexts, both urban and rural.  This can ease the stress placed on families in such situations.  Many times the children of elderly parents like to reciprocate the care they once received, but with health issues it can still be taxing to the caregivers.  Piercy explores complex family situations such as elderly parents who have a developmentally disabled adult child for whom they provide  care.  Another complexity, which is happening more often, is grandparents who are taking care of grandkids whose parent is absent.

Through reading this book these problems are addressed with lots of counseling interventions and resourceful examples for families that are described in a practical manner.  WORKING WITH AGING FAMILIES is a good resource for church families as we seek to care for both our birth parents as well as our older brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Gerontion
T.S. Eliot
[Found in T.S. Eliot – THE WASTELAND AND OTHER POEMS ]

Thou hast nor youth nor age
But as it were an after dinner sleep
Dreaming of both.

Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
Bitten by flies, fought.
My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
The goat coughs at night in the field overhead;
Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds.
The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea,
Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.

I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.

Signs are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign”:
The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger

Continue Reading…