Had a great conversation with the members of the of the United Church of Canada Foundation this morning and felt very encouraged by their support of my research (The McGeachy Senior Scholarship) and their enthusiastic feedback on my book, Re-Designing Your Life: A Practical Spirituality for the Second Half of Life, as well as the videos that go with it. I am pleased to report their excitement also for Canadian Boomerfest, which the Foundation has also generously supported through the Alfred J. Mitchell Fund.
For those of you who have had a chance to look at the book, you will notice that I use the metaphor of home renovations to frame my discussion of the second half of life and how we answer God’s call when many of us may be retired or semi-retired or find ourselves as empty-nesters. Years ago not many of us got a chance to have a long retirement; but now, with advances in medical science, more of us in Canada are living an extra twenty to thirty years beyond what we used to think of as normal retirement age.
Cultural anthropologist Catherine Bateson’s says that these extra years have not been tacked on to the end of life but can be thought of as a kind of atrium at the center of our lives, a time when most are still active and healthy and have much to share. In the book I try to look at some of the challenges we face as we enter the second half of life, particularly the transitions we undergo. By this time of life, many of us, for example, have known loss: the death of parents, partners, or siblings; possibly the end of a marriage or a partner suffering from Alzheimer’s; the loss of a job that brought meaning to our lives, whether through downsizing or our choice to retire. The questions we seek answers to are profoundly spiritual: Who am I now that I am no longer defined by my job, my partner, or my children? Where is God calling me to serve?
A lot of us Boomers find ourselves in the Sandwich generation, having to juggle the needs of frail, elderly parents, full or part-time work, and still helping adult children or caring for young grandchildren — all the while, trying to find ways to care for ourselves and nurture our own spirit.
This is why I am also very excited about the other project that the Foundation has generously supported, Canadian Boomerfest: A Colloquium and Celebration on Boomers and Spirituality! We have a wonderful group of speakers and workshop leaders who will be addressing many of these issues that so many of us face as we enter into the second half of life: growing our spirituality and learning new spiritual practices as we age; caring for ourselves while caring for others; learning about the risks to our emotional well-being and developing a strong ecology of health, especially good mental health; new rituals and new living arrangements for the second half of life; and how we as a community of faith can better connect to the younger generations and leave a valuable spiritual legacy.
Hope to see you there! October 17th to 19th, Siloam United Church, 1240 Fanshawe Park Road East, London, Ontario.
REGISTER HERE: http://canadianboomerfest.siloamunitedchurch.org/