What spiritual resources have sustained you over your life and which ones will sustain you as you get older?
This question was the focus of an important study carried out by the Rev. Dr. Jane Kuepfer and represented the central research question for her PhD dissertation. Kuepfer’s research was carried out with a group of first-wave Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1955. All had grown up in relatively homogenous southern Ontario and were steeped in the post WWII values of hard work, loyalty and the importance of family and community. All had grown up in the church, although from different denominations, and a few no longer attended church. Many have accessed a variety of resources to meet their spiritual needs, including counseling, spiritual direction, contemplative practice, retreats, life-coaching, support groups, and holistic healthcare, in addition to the more traditional religious practices like Sunday worship, prayer, and Bible study.
While the people in the study employed a diversity of spiritual resources, including some of the more traditional resources, Kuepfer discovered three themes that consistently emerged: Self or living intentionally and with self-care (Inner Resources), Someone (Relational Resources), and Space (Environmental Resources which referred to both physical space and the spaciousness of time). Among these Boomers there was found to be an openness to differences, more reliance on self and on written sources other than the Bible, an interest in reading and conversation as spiritual resources, a desire to continue learning (especially about spirituality), and changes in rituals, particularly as these relate to funerals. Kuepfer’s findings will definitely be of benefit to anyone seeking to provide spiritual care in seniors residences, nursing homes and the local faith community.
Can you relate to Kuepfer’s conclusions? Where have you found spiritual sustenance in your life to date and where do you expect to find the spiritual resources you will need as you enter the third and fourth quarters of your life? I would love to hear from you!