As a child, I was always the kid who loved hanging out with the older kids. I was the oldest child in my family but usually among the youngest in my grade and I liked the company of kids who were capable of so much more. In rabbinical school, I was the one right out of college who preferred my second career classmates. They had so much more life experience and were so much more interesting than my own age peers!
So it may come as no surprise that, although I was born just after the “Boomer” generation, I have been very interested in their experience of approaching old(er) age. And I am delighted that the Institute is adding an important voice to this conversation: a brand new book by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal, called Wise Aging: Living with Joy Resilience and Spirit.
This book is truly a delight. Edited by Rabbi Beth Lieberman and published by Behrman House, it is a warm, wise and often humorous exploration of the gifts and challenges of growing older. The challenges might be more obvious than the gifts: the changing body, living with loss, confronting mortality. And yet, the gifts that can emerge are marvelous. Consider the possibility of renewing and repairing essential relationships or of developing the capacity to be more joyful, patient and generous. Consider the possibility of really thinking through what kind of legacy we wish to leave and the opportunity to finally bring our lives into greater alignment with how we have always wanted to live.
Aging, if we approach it wisely, gives us the opportunity to integrate all the learning we have done, especially the spiritual learning, regardless of whether we began early or late, so that we can live with greater meaning, less fear, more love.
Rachel and Linda designed the book to be used in Wise Aging Groups, small facilitated groups where these questions can be explored in safe, sacred community. Through our Wise Aging Training Program, we have trained more than 180 facilitators across the country, most of whom are offering Wise Aging groups on a local basis. But even if you don’t live in a community where a group has been formed, pick up the book. It draws you in and helps open the heart.