Boomers and Rootlessness

This morning was another beautiful one, just perfect for our walk along the conservation trails that surround lovely Morrison Dam. Afterwards everyone came back to our house in Exeter for coffee and a delicious variety of “potluck” muffins and biscuits, cheese and fruit.

The topic today was “rootlessness” and, once again, many of us wondered if we hadn’t grown up living very sheltered lives, since some of the themes of this chapter did not really speak to us. None of us really took part in the drug culture, although we certainly knew of classmates who did smoke pot and dabbled with other drugs. Moreover, as one woman commented, when we sang “Can’t get no satisfaction”, it wasn’t because we were feeling particularly dissatisfied with life. We just liked the tune and the beat!

Another member raised an important question around expectations. What expectations did we have as young people growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s? Many of us heard again and again, that the world was our oyster and that we could do anything we wanted to do in life. Our parents had come through a terrible economic Depression and an even more frightening world war, but it was worth it because now they were able to give their kids all the things that they never had. The future looked rosy — all you needed was a good education and nothing would be impossible to you.

As another said, if he  had to choose a song that really spoke to him when he was a young person, it would have been “The Age of Aquarius” by the 5th Dimension. Its hope-filled lyrics which promised the dawning of peace and harmony and understanding spoke of a time when sympathy and trust would abound. “No more falsehoods or derision” — just “golden living dreams of visions.”  Today he would say that his song would be “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” In other words, what happened to the promise of a better world where peace and love and progress rule? As Miller notes in his book, we looked at our parents’ generation and thought we could do far better. After all, they were the ones who invented the bomb and put our young lives at risk. However, when we look back over the years, we realise that we  have not created a legacy of love and peace. What happened to all our high ideals? What happened to our dreams of a better world? In other words, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”

Although some clearly felt that this chapter was titled incorrectly, most of us agreed that one thing today’s Boomers lack most is a sense of community. This disconnectedness that Miller talks about not only leaves us feeling lonely, but also very vulnerable to the scare-mongering that lies behind so much of today’s advertising. Some of us also confessed that our anxiety is not only for ourselves, but also that we are genuinely worried about our children who may not have the opportunities many of us have enjoyed, especially if we were first wave Boomers.

And what about our expectations for ourselves now that we are retired or nearing retirement age? Again, the response was mixed and depended very much on which wave of the boom we stemmed from, where we grew up, the particular career path we followed, and the current state of our health. Most were hopeful, but cautiously so.








Boomers and Loneliness

This past Saturday we all enjoyed a delightfullovely walk along the beautiful paths near Ric and Susan’s lovely home. We welcomed two new members to our group as well: Diane and Stephanie.

An interesting discussion on Miller’s second chapter “Loneliness” followed over breakfast. As Miller points out in this chapter, “To a boomer, a ‘family’ could mean a number of options. A family could be a divorced man and a divorced woman living together in a trial marriage. A family could be remarriage on the part of both husband an wife, each bringing along a couple of children, thus making a blended family. A family could be two gay men who are married with an adopted child, or a single parent with two children. A family may be a single mom with her twenty-something daughter and ninety-something mother living under the same roof. The descriptions of ‘family’ are endless.” (Craig Kennet Miller, Boomer Spirituality. Seven Values for the Second Half of Life, p. 41) Gone, for the most part, are the Ozzie and Harriett families most of us grew up with: working Dad, stay-at-home Mom, and two kids.

Looking back on my childhood, I didn’t know any single Moms raising children on their own, with the one exception of my friend Vicki, whose Dad died before we started high school. I didn’t know any gay couples — or if I did, I didn’t know they were gay. I only remember one family in our whole elementary school, from kindergarten to grade eight, whose parents were divorced. All this was to change when we Boomers grew up. The divorce rate began to rise as it had never done before.

The interesting thing is that Boomers, now in their 50’s and 60’s, are still divorcing. It’s called grey divorce and it is on the rise even here in Canada. In June of 2016, Zoomer Magazine reported that in Canada divorce is sparking among the 50-pluses and becoming an increasingly common event for couples aged 65 and older. As a result, loneliness among Boomers is also on the rise.

As Miller writes, the biggest challenges to boomer marriages (and indeed any meaningful relationships) are time and attention. These are valuable commodities of which boomers have always had far too little.  Today many of them are paying heavily for the endless hours of overtime they put into their work lives when they were younger. Divorce is not the only problem. As Miller points out, many are also alienated from their adult children and long for a sense of family as well as companionship.

There is of course a big difference between being alone and being lonely. One can be lonely in a marriage, while another can lead a very fulfilling single life. The key is to have a good network of friends. This is where churches can be supportive of boomers, by providing them not only with meaning and hope but also with a strong sense of community.  If loneliness is fundamentally a spiritual problem, the church can provide boomers with grace and healing by welcoming them into the family of God.

A Great Start to our Boomer Study Group!

This past Saturday marked the first day for our study of Craig Miller’s book “Seven Values for Boomer Spirituality.” We had a delicious breakfast at Jennie’s in St. Marys and, while we had to contend with some background noise, I think everyone was able to share their thoughts and ideas. We also enjoyed a beautiful walk beside the falls and along the old railroad bridge that overlooks this picturesque town.

After filling out an introductory quiz to see if we really qualified as a Boomer, we discussed some of the key events in the US that had had an impact on many Canadian Boomers, especially the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, and Watergate. We also looked at some of the major events taking place in Canada during the sixties and seventies, like Expo ’67, the rise of Trudeaumania, and the FLQ Crisis. One of the first-wave Boomers talked about the excitement of attending a packed auditorium at Western University to hear the charismatic Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Others recalled trips to Expo ’67 or how they felt when the Trudeau government enacted the War Measures Act during the October Crisis of 1970.

What quickly became very clear is that we did not all experience the same things in the same way. For example, depending on whether we were an early Boomer, a mid-wave Boomer or part of the third wave of Boomers, different events played different roles in our developing consciousness and had differing impacts on us. No surprise there. However, age was not the only factor that was key. One woman talked about being raised in remote Prince Edward Island without a television and by rather strict Baptist parents. Much of the euphoria, restlessness and turmoil of the sixties did not even touch her. My own experience was very different, having been raised as I was on the Windsor-Detroit border with four major TV channels (a huge selection back then!) and the continuous barrage of American news. For me, as well as for some of those raised in nearby London, bomb drills were a regular feature of school life.

Regional differences were significant as well when it came to discussing the FLQ Crisis and the kidnappings of British diplomat James Cross and Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte. Living in southwestern Ontario I experienced the War Measures Act as an extreme violation of our civil rights and a symbol of a broken society, while another woman in our group who had grown up in Montreal at the time saw this act as a much needed measure in a society that had grown very frightening, violent and which was out of control. Her friend was engaged to marry Pierre Laporte’s son. Naturally she and many other Quebecois were shattered when Laporte’s murdered body was found in the trunk of a car after James Cross had been returned to his loved ones safe and alive.

For at least two of our members, one who grew up in Northern Ireland and another who was raised in Scotland, the IRA, Margaret Thatcher and the Brighton Bombing on October 12, 1984, had a far greater impact.

After spending some time discussing how each of us experienced brokenness in our generation, one woman observed that nowhere does Miller give us a definition of what he means by “spirituality”. She also reminded us that our spirituality is born out of the brokenness of the Cross. In the breaking of the bread, she said, we experience Christ’s self-giving love and are made whole. Thus it is through brokenness that we find meaning and wholeness.

This coming Saturday, July 15th,  we will be meeting in London and discussing  chapter two “Loneliness”, which Miller identifies as the second major spiritual reality for Boomers after “Brokenness”.  We look forward to another lovely walk, this time on the trails in Stoneybrook.










Only Six More Days Until Our Boomer Spirituality Group Meets!

Want to grow your spirituality in the second half of life? Then this group is for you!

This is a reminder to those of you who have already registered — and an invitation to those of you who have not had a chance to do so — to join our summer Breakfast Discussion Group this summer! Feel free to come to all the sessions or as many as you are able to get to — we know that many people take holidays in the summer and if you can’t make it to every session, we are happy to welcome you when you can! (although obviously you will get more out of the study if you are able to come to all the sessions!)

We will be reading and reflecting on Craig Kennet Miller’s wonderful book Boomer Spirituality: Seven Values for the Second Half of Life. Beginning at 9:30 a.m. this coming Saturday, July 8th we will meet for a walk in St. Marys, ON and then join together for a time of breakfast and conversation about the introduction and chapter one of Miller’s book. We will be meeting at Jennie’s Restaurant, 830 Queen St. East. Depending on the weather, we will decide whether to walk first or eat first. Please be sure to collect your book at Siloam United Church, 1240 Fanshawe Park Road East, London ON in preparation for our study. Cost of books is $22 each. Please note: the office is now operating on summer hours — Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.   For more information, please contact me at

While Miller is writing out of an American context, many of the events he talks about had an impact on Canadian Boomers too. This week I invite you to think about the events he discusses in the introduction and chapter one and also to add events in Canada that spark memories for you. For example, in light of our nation’s 150th celebration of Confederation yesterday, what do you remember about Canada’s 100th birthday? Did you go to Expo ’67? How old were you and where were you at the time of the FLQ Crisis, when the Trudeau (Pierre!) government enacted the War Measures Act? What were you doing when the repatriation of Canada’s Constitution took place in 1982? And were you one of the thousands watching or listening and cheering from afar during the 1972 Summit Series on September 28 when Canada defeated Russia at the Luzhniki Ice Palace in Moscow? Do you recall your emotions when Foster Hewitt announced the miracle finish when Paul Henderson scored with 34 seconds remaining in Game 8 to give Canada a 6-5 victory and the series?

Lots to think about! Hope you share your thoughts and join us on Saturday!

Please RSVP to so that I can reserve the right number of seats at Jennie’s!