All You Need is Grandma!

Well, almost! According to Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, grandmothers are important to human evolution and development. To a large degree, they are what makes us human. Quoting author Penelope Farmer, she writes: “What everyone needs in the (new) millennium is access to the Internet and a grandmother.” (See Hrdy, Mothers and Others, chapter 8).

Kristen Hawkes, an anthropologist at the University of Utah, has made similar findings. She writes: “Grandmothering was the initial step toward making us who we are.”

Grandmothers also help us to live longer. How? Commenting on the evolution of the human race, Hawkes and Hrdy note that, “grandmothers can help collect food and feed children before they are able to feed themselves, enabling mothers to have more children. Without grandmothers present, if a mother gives birth and already has a two-year-old child, the odds of that child surviving are much lower, because unlike other primates, humans aren’t able to feed and take care of themselves immediately after weaning. The mother must devote her time and attention to the new infant at the expense of the older child. But grandmothers can solve this problem by acting as supplementary caregivers.” (See “New Evidence That Grandmothers Were Crucial for Human Evolution” by Joseph Stromberg,, October, 23, 2012.)*

Today grandmothers — and grandfathers too — may not be needed at every meal time, although they often do help with meals as well. But, more importantly, they are often there to provide support to young families by babysitting, ferrying grandkids to hockey and ballgames, to dance and piano lessons, and a host of other activities. In our church at Siloam, it is frequently the grandparents who bring the children to worship and Sunday School or to Vacation Bible School in the summertime.

You don’t need to be the best grandparent ever! Just being there for the grandchildren is what counts. Hugs and cuddles, reading to them, engaging them in conversation, going for walks together, and providing a shoulder to cry on, all make a positive difference in the lives of grandchildren. They also contribute to greater happiness and well-being for the grandparents. I suspect the same same is true for great-aunts and uncles who take an active interest in their nieces’ and nephews’ offspring.

That’s why I am so excited to share that we will have over twenty people at our first Grand-parenting Workshop at Siloam this coming Saturday morning, April 29th! Will report back on how things go, but if you are in the area, please feel free to join us at Siloam United Church, 1240 Fanshawe Park Road East, London ON, from (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Together we can make a positive difference in the lives of our young people!

*Read more:

Joining with others in worship each week can actually lengthen your life and make you happier!

Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.

                 Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.

                 Walk beside me and be my friend. — Albert Camus

We all need friends. Friends enrich our lives in so many ways. But did you know that friends can actually save your life?

Canadian author and psychologist Susan Pinker argues that friends are critical to our health and well-being, especially as we age. Indeed, the lack of close personal friendships may shorten our lives faster than cigarettes, salt, sugar and animal fat. Real time, face to face contact, can help us to live healthier and longer lives. Chatting with friends on the porch or over the back fence, playing cards once a week, meeting friends every Tuesday morning at the coffee shop, having friends over to dinner regularly, or going to choir practice every week, can actually lengthen your life and bring you more happiness. And get this, study after study shows that these kinds of activities will do far more to promote health and longevity than “slathering on the sunscreen, downing fistfuls of vitamins, practicing mindfulness meditation, or sweating it out at the gym or with hot yoga.”  So, don’t believe Sartre when he said, “Hell is other people.” And never mind what the late comedian George Burns said when he quipped, “happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family -– in another city.” According to numerous studies in this field, it just ain’t so. Moreover, says Pinker, you can forget all that nonsense that says that worry and working hard will kill you. The only thing that will kill you is doing it alone.

What’s more: joining together with others in worship every Sunday actually has a positive impact on your health. It may even help you to live longer and live happier!

It’s so important to exercise and look after your health!

Today I visited an older woman who suffers from a serious pulmonary/respiratory disease. She has lived far longer than her doctors ever expected her to do. They believe that the reason for her added years has to do with the fact that she had undertaken a regular exercise regimen in her fifties and sixties. Her comments are a reminder to me that I need to get out and there and be active!

This is something that my kids tell me all the time too. Not sure where son Lachlan got the “keep fit” gene — certainly not from me! He is a full time Physical Education teacher and basketball coach and is passionate about what he does. He loves helping kids to learn how to stay fit and healthy and has worked with adults too to support them in their quest for optimum health.

And daughter Alexandra is actually the Chair of the Healing and Wellness program at her place of work in Mississauga, Ontario: Peel Children’s Centre. Check out this article for which she was recently interviewed. And while you read this, I will go and grab my running shoes!


Happier Together!

Yesterday our church, like most other Christian congregations throughout the world, was filled with men, women and children singing Alleluia in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The music, the floral arrangements, and the cheerful spring decorations all combined to make this most important day in the Christian year a very special one indeed. Some came because of the beautiful Easter music. Some came out of habit, it being the thing to do at Easter. Some came to please their partner or parents. I pray that some also came for a word of hope and grace in a world that often seems to be filled with anything but!

That said, I know that many people come to church not only at Easter, but also most other Sundays, because of the fellowship they find here. Community is important. This is true of other faiths as well. I am reminded of the Jewish man who told everyone that he was really an atheist but still attended services at his local synagogue every Sabbath Day. Asked why he did this when he was not a believer, he replied: “See Mr. Schwartz over there? He comes to the synagogue to visit with God. I come to the synagogue to visit with Mr. Schwartz.”

Well, that man was on to something! Little did he know perhaps, but his decision to visit with Mr. Schwartz each week at synagogue has probably improved his health immeasurably and even extended his life by several years. He is likely happier because of that connection too.

Ever since the publication in 2000 of Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam’s ground-breaking book, Bowling Alone, we have become acutely aware of the breakdown of community organizations and the decline in civic engagement that is so important to democracy. It turns out, however, that community engagement has a powerful impact on one’s personal health and well-being too. Hence the importance of our friend’s weekly, face-to-face visits with Mr. Schwartz!

Over the coming days I will be looking at the book by Canadian psychologist Susan Pinker: The Village Effect. How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier. Given that studies by Putnam and others show an increased loneliness among Baby Boomers, this book is a must-read for all Boomers who want to explore how to live a life that is healthier, happier and more meaningful. For there is no doubt about it: we are happier together!

For now, I leave you with the quote with which Pinker prefaces her book:

You cannot live for yourselves. A thousand fibres connect you with your fellow-men; and along those fibres, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects.”  — Reverend Henry Melvill, 1856








Together we will be reading and reflecting on Craig Kennet Miller’s new book: Boomer Spirituality: Seven Values for the Second Half of Life. Each Saturday, starting July 1st and finishing on August 12th, we will be joining together for a nature hike, followed by breakfast at a country restaurant and discussion of the values Miller highlights in his book. You don’t need to be a Boomer to join! If you have an interest in growing your spirituality in the second half of life, we would love to have you! Come to some or come to all! We know there will be times when people need to be away, so don’t let that keep you away from sharing on the Saturdays you around this summer!

For more info: Please write to Sheila at or call 519 455 9201.

Books may be ordered through Erin Salter at 519 455 9201 or through the sign-up sheet in the narthex at Siloam. We invite you to purchase your own books and breakfast.


IF YOU JUST WANT TO LEARN MORE, PLEASE COME TO OUR KICK-OFF ON SATURDAY, JULY 1ST – CANADA’S BIRTHDAY – at the home of Richard and Sheila Macgregor. We will gather around 3 p.m. for a nature walk, followed by a Potluck BBQ and discussion of chapter one. PLEASE NOTE: This is the only session where we will be meeting later in the day and not at a restaurant. Please bring a main course or dessert to share, lawn chair, sunhat and sunscreen and remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. If you would like to go for a swim, please bring a bathing suit. NO SKINNY DIPPING! 🙂





Check out the newly posted Agenda for the 7th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality — Hope to see you there!

April, 2017

Conference Schedule Now Available!
The 7th International Conference Schedule is now available at the website! Please note that this is a preliminary schedule and subject to change. An abbreviated schedule is provided below. Visit the website for a more detailed schedule, including the chaplains and congregational tracks. You can also download the Conference Schedule here.

Sunday, June 4
2:00 p.m.          Registration & Check in
4:30 p.m.          Introductions, Welcomes & Performance
7:00 p.m.          Fellowship Reception
Monday, June 5
8:00 a.m.          Registration, Check in & Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m.          Introductions, Welcomes & Opening Address
10:00 a.m.        Programming
5:15 p.m.           Dinner Break & Evening Entertainment
Tuesday, June 6
8:00 a.m.           Registration & Check in
9:15  a.m.           Programming
6:30 p.m.           Dinner, Music & Entertainment
Wednesday, June 7
8:00 a.m.            Registration/ Check in
8:30 a.m.            Programming
12:00 p.m.          Conference Wrap-Up & Taize Service

Conference Blog: The 4,032-Mile Pilgrimage
At the 7th International Conference blog, Eboni Green discusses facilitating the move from complicated spiritual grief toward spiritual wellness.
Complicated spiritual grief is usually precipitated by the loss of someone who is significant in your life or by a quest for deeper understanding about the meaning and purpose of life and results in answers to your questions that are unsettling, nonsensical, or both. Although not all loss leads to spiritual questioning, it is common to experience complicated spiritual grief if you have cared for a loved one with a debilitating or terminal illness, if your loved one experienced a great deal of pain, or if you have unresolved feelings associated with your loss.

Dr. Eboni I. Green is a registered nurse and family caregiver, and holds a Ph.D in human services with a specialization in health care administration. She currently serves as faculty for the College of Health Sciences at Walden University, where she teaches graduate courses in the health care administration program. She is a presenter for the 7th International Conference.

Registration and Housing
If the cost of lodging is affecting your ability to attend, consider the affordability and convenience of a dorm room! Housing/Hotel information is available here
      • General Registration (Feb 1 – May 20, 2017): $450
      • Church Worker Registration (through May 20, 2017): $250
      • Student Registration (through May 20, 2017): $150
      • Day of Registration (After June 3, 2017): $550
      • One-Day Registration: $175
In addition to the 7th International Conference and programming, your registration fee includes:
      • Entrance to Sunday’s reception and Tuesday’s dinner and entertainment
      • Worship service
      • Lunch Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday
      • Morning coffee and pastries, afternoon snacks

Freedom 85: How Boomers are Redefining Retirement in Canada

Just read an interesting article about Boomers and retirement that my colleague forwarded to me this morning. I encourage you to read it. It shows how Boomers are redefining retirement! The other exciting news it shares is  that we now have a provincial government in Canada that takes Boomers and older adults seriously! “Nova Scotia is the first government in the country to set up a department devoted entirely to seniors, a one-stop shop for all issues that relate to the province’s aging population.” 

Please check out this article when you can:

Re-Thinking Our Spiritual Practices for the Second Half of Life

What a beautiful, warm, sunny weekend this has been! Yesterday found Richard and me up in Bayfield, walking the path to lovely Lake Huron with our Jack Russell terrier, Oscar. Then, when we arrived home from worship today, the first thing we wanted to do was to head out for another walk, this time around nearby Morrison Dam. Needless to say, Oscar enjoyed both walks. Lots of new smells, new scents, and new flowers poking their heads up through the ground, all of them wonderful signs of springtime and new life!  It was fun to watch him.

It occurred to me that our walks this weekend were not just about getting some much needed exercise. Nor were they just about breathing in some good fresh air after a long winter indoors. They were also a form of worship: the worship of God our Creator.

Family therapist and fellow Boomer Neil Lackey says that as we enter the second half of life there is an opportunity to think differently about our faith life and to develop new spiritual practices. For Neil, moving rocks and working on his property in the beautiful village of Wellesley, Ontario is a way of nurturing the life around him.  This is a spiritual practice for Neil. His wife Linda agrees. For her, going on a canoe trip with friends, or working alongside Neil in their garden, is a spiritual practice. As she says, “Simply being out in nature is a very prayerful, meaningful, life-giving thing.”

Later this spring, I hope to start a new group at our church, but it won’t be your typical church study group. What I would like to plan is a series of walks in the picturesque town of St. Marys, followed by breakfast discussions at a local tea room. Together we will discuss Craig K. Miller’s new book, Boomer Spirituality: Seven Values for the Second Half of Life, to which I have referred earlier in this blog. (See January 28, 2017.) I hope you’ll join us. I will share more details as things become finalized, but if you live too far away to be with us physically, I invite you to read along and share your ideas over the net.

For now, I simply encourage you to head out into God’s wonderful creation and worship!