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A compassionate guide for transforming aging into spiritual growth
• Engage with 25 key questions guiding you to mine previously untapped veins of inspiration and courage
• Find a constructive role for regret and fear and embrace the freedom to become more fully yourself
• 2015 Nautilus Gold Award
As we enter the years beyond midlife, our quest for an approach to aging takes on added urgency and becomes even more relevant in our daily lives. Empowering a new generation of seekers to view aging as a spiritual path, authors Robert Weber and Carol Orsborn reveal that it is by engaging with the difficult questions about loss, meaning, and mortality--questions we can no longer put off or ignore--that we continue to grow. In fact, the realization of our full spiritual potential comes about not by avoiding the challenges aging brings our way but by working through them.
Addressing head-on how to make the transition from fears about aging into a fuller, richer appreciation of the next phase of our lives, the authors guide you through 25 key questions that can help you embrace the shadow side of aging as well as the spiritual opportunities inherent in growing older. Sharing their stories and wisdom to both teach and demonstrate what it means to feel energized about the possibilities of your later years, they explore how to find a constructive role for regret, shame, and guilt, realize your value to society, and embrace the freedom of your later years to become more fully yourself.
Coming from Catholic Jesuit and Jewish backgrounds respectively, as well as drawing from the latest research in psychological and religious theory, Weber and Orsborn provide their own conversational and candid answers to the 25 key questions, supporting their insightful and compassionate guidance with anecdotes, inspirational readings, and spiritual exercises. By engaging deeply with both the shadow and light sides of aging, our spirits not only learn to cope--but also to soar.
Robert L. Weber, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and a former Jesuit. Recipient of the American Society on Aging’s 2014 Religion, Spirituality, and Aging Award, he is an advisory board member for the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology’s Center for Psychotherapy and Spirituality. He lives with his wife in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., is founder and editor-in-chief of Fierce with Age: The Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration, and Spirituality. The author of more than 20 books for and about the Boomer generation as well as popular blogs on Huffington Post, PBS’s NextAvenue.net, and BeliefNet.com, she has served on the faculties of Georgetown University, Loyola Marymount University, and Pepperdine University. She lives with her husband in Madison, Tennessee.
Table of Contents
Summons to a Leap of Faith Harry R. Moody, Ph.D.
Calling for a New Vision of Spiritual Aging
Aging as the Path to Spiritual Maturity
Our Spiritual Biographies
Contemplative Aging: Living Life to the Full Robert L. Weber, Ph.D.
On Becoming Fierce with Age Carol Orsborn, Ph.D.
Chapter 3 The Seeker’s Guide Navigating the Wild Space beyond Midlife
A Journey of Spiritual Inquiry
What Is Spiritual Maturity?
1 What is a psychologically and spiritually healthy vision of aging?
2 How has your spirituality changed and deepened over time?
3 How have your notions of the Divine matured since you were a child?
4 What is the relationship between spirituality and religion?
5 How can you assess your progress toward a more mature spirituality?
What Is Spiritual Awakening?
6 Why do we want to stay asleep?
7 What wakes you up?
8 Has there been a particular experience that has finally awakened you?
9 What do you think the Sacred wants to awaken you to?
10 Is there a constructive role for regret, shame, and guilt?
What Is Freedom?
11 What illusions does aging dispel?
12 Which illusions are the most difficult to let go?
13 Is there a positive purpose to keeping some of our illusions?
14 What does it mean to be free in light of the ebbing of physicality and social connection?
15 What still keeps you at the mercy of particular events, things, and people?
How Can We Become More Fully Ourselves?
16 What can you accept about yourself that you previously disowned?
17 What qualities did you neglect in the first half of your life that you are now free to develop?
18 What do you especially value about yourself?
19 Who has believed in you even when you did not?
20 Do you experience yourself as having intrinsic value in the grand scheme of the universe?
What Is the Value of Aging to Society?
21 Can withdrawal from the mainstream, by choice or circumstances, have value?
22 What is the dynamic tension between accepting marginalization and fighting against it?
23 Is there a spiritually/psychologically healthy response to those times when you feel disconnected from the Sacred?
24 What value, if any, do those who have suffered in their aging such things as cognitive impairment and physical pain hold for us?
25 How can spiritual maturity equip us to face our own unknowns?
Conclusion From Midlife to Afterlife
Bear Us Away
The Last Question: What’s Next?
Afterword Extraordinary Moments in Ordinary Time W. Andrew Achenbaum, Ph.D.