Six spiritual tasks of aging

By Peter Feuerherd| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Seniors

 

1. Letting goThis is the period when we evaluate everything we have come to know about life and look for a dimension above the things of this world, for the sake of what is yet to come. The search means, then, that we strip ourselves of whatever it is we have accrued until this time in order to give ourselves wholly to the birthing of the person within. Into this part of life we travel light.

 

2. No regrets
When we regret the roads that have led us to where we are now, we risk the loss of the future. We drain it of new possibility. We fail to see that these new roads we're on can be just as life-giving, just as good for us, just as full of God-ness as the roads we've come down in the past.

3. Meaning
To be meaningful to the world around us means that we need to provide something more than numbers. It means that we are obliged to offer important ideas, sacred reflection, a serious review of options, and the suggestion of better ideas than the ones the world is running on now. It means that we prod the people around us to reflect on what they themselves are doing-while they can still change it.

4. Legacy
Our legacy is far more than our fiscal worth. Our legacy does not end the day we die. We have added to it every moment of our lives. It is the crowning moment of the aging process. It is the major task of these years. In this period of life, we have both the vision and the wisdom to see that [our] legacy is what we want it to be. If we need to erase old memories and create new ones, this is the time to do it.

5. Forgiveness
Recrimination never really solves anything. It only evens the scales. It does not turn the need for justice into the balm of love. It does not give me back to myself, a little more humble, perhaps, and a great deal more human, as well. Only forgiveness can do that. Only forgiveness is the therapy of old age that wipes the slate clean, that heals as it embraces. Forgiveness is more important to the one who forgives than it is to the one who is forgiven.

6. Solitude
The problem with solitude is that we often confuse it with aloneness or isolation. Isolation means that we are cut off from the rest of the world by circumstances over which we have no control. Solitude is chosen. It is the act of being alone in order to be with ourselves. We seek solitude for the sake of the soul. We take time to be by ourselves, to close out the rest of the world, to concentrate on the inside of us rather than wrestle with everything going on around us.