Elder Spirituality is a focus whose time has come. Traditionally in the world's religions, the last stage of life is seen as a time for intensified spiritual work as well as for passing on wisdom to other generations. In the United States, a Baby Boomer turns 65 every 7 seconds, and people are living longer in other parts of the world as well. Here at Spirituality & Practice, elders are a growing and important group using our resources for spiritual journeys.
In 2013, Spirituality & Practice launched this Elder Spirituality Project with a series of interactive e-courses. In our announcement we quoted elders who had found wisdom and spiritual community through these affordable and accessible programs. During the first year, S&P offered e-courses led by Angeles Arrien, John Chittister, Christina Baldwin, and William Martin (these courses are still available through S&P's on-demand system). We are now developing the next series of e-courses. The first one, offered in September 2014, Living Your Legacy: Seeds, Blossoms, Fruits is being created and led by facilitators from Sage-ing International, our partners in the Conscious Aging Alliance.
Curated Content on Elder Spirituality
With the launch of this special section of Spirituality & Practice, we are expanding the Elder Spirituality Project from e-courses to a wide-ranging selection of curated content.
Our personal interest in spiritual eldering goes back to 1992 when we put together a "resource companion" for subscribers to our newsletter Values & Visions. It listed books about the spiritual dimensions of later life, memoirs by men and women who had kept active as they aged, portraits of elders in movies, plus a section on grandparenting.
In the 22 years since then, we have continued to review and identify resources about the elder experience: books, films, articles, quotations, and much more. From hundreds of pages of content, we have now curated our recommendations on elder spirituality. Like its subject, this is a "work in progress." We have designed it for elders and those who work with them and care for them.
A Spiritual Adventure
The Elder Spirituality Project aims to reframe the often limiting and negative ideas about the experiences of the last stage of life. We accept the reality that there is no "one size fits all" for elders, but we also believe that now is the right time to proclaim that getting older can be an exciting and rewarding spiritual adventure.
At this propitious time when there are so many elders with the time, the energy, and the zeal to live a deeper and fuller spiritual life, we are taking up the challenge of our good friend and elder mentor Edward Hays who once wrote:
"The challenge of the saints of the twenty-first century is to begin again to comprehend the sacred in the ten thousand things of our world; to reverence what we have come to view as ordinary and devoid of spirit."
Here's what the time of spiritual elderhood means to us:
• It is a time in our lives to put the finishing touches on our character for the fulfillment and confirmation of our true self.
• It is a time to nurture intimacy in our roles as spouses, parents, grandparents, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and community members.
• It is a time to explore everyday spirituality, discovering signs of the sacred in things, our homes, our bodies, our relationships, and more.
• It is a time to deepen and intensify our devotional life, learning more spiritual practices to supplement prayer and meditation.
• It is what the French call the "Third Age," when we embrace it all — sunshine and shadow — excluding nothing from our hearts.
Quotes for Elders
Elder Spirituality E-Courses
Spiritual Practices for Elders
20 Best Books for Elders
Children's Picture Books about Grandparents
Exceptional Excerpts for Elders
DVDs about Elders and Conscious Aging
Inspiring Documentaries about Elders
Art for and about Elders
Wise Elders in S&P's Spiritual Teachers Project
Conscious Aging Articles and Resources
And here's what spiritual eldering practices do for us.
• They activate our service to others through giving, volunteerism, mentoring, and sacred activism.
• They open the doors to better care and attention to our bodies and emotions.
• They help us explore silence and solitude for the enrichment of our inner lives.
• They give us ways to harvest our memories, pursue pleasures, and express our creativity.
• They engage us in lifelong learning and sacred study.
• They give us ways to tell our stories, identify our values, share the fruits of our long lives, and pass on our legacies to others.
We invite you to explore our curated content on elder spirituality using the links above. In the Practices section, we have included sample practices from a database of spiritual practices for elders that we are currently compiling. We'll be creating new pages on "Days in the Life of a Spiritual Elder." Watch for that unprecedented project when the new redesign of Spirituality & Practice launches in late fall.
Yours for a Spiritual Elderhood,
Frederic A. Brussat, 72
Mary Ann Brussat, 68