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Category: Older People

Does belief change in old age?

Does belief change in old age?

Belief and Ageing Spiritual pathways in later life Peter G. Coleman (Editor) Paperback, 192 pages Policy Press Bristol 2011 ISBN 9781847424594   2011   Most of the books on my shelves about religion and ageing are written out of the United States of America. There are many individuals and groups who are investing resources in research in this area on the USA. This stands in sharp comparison to the UK and Europe where religion is on the decline and seems increasingly…

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memories

memories

We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us into life.   Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.   We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love’s light we dare be brave And…

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THE WISDOM OF AGE

THE WISDOM OF AGE

Turkish folk hero Mulla Nasr Edin had reached old age and was sitting in a tea house with friends looking back on his life: “When I was a young man I was filled with the goal of awakening everyone and I prayed to God to give me what was needed to change the world. One day in middle age I realized that my life was half over and I had accomplished little. I had changed no one. So again I…

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Moving Theory into Practice?

Moving Theory into Practice?

Transitions and the Lifecourse Challenging the Constructions of ‘Growing Old’ Amanda Grenier 256 pages, pbk £26.99, Policy Press  Bristol- (Ageing and the Lifecourse Series) 2012, ISBN 978 1 84742 691 8.   Most of us in middle age have the experience of living with the experience of our ageing parents. They can force us to consider what shape ageing might take in us and indeed whether the patterns of our transitions might reflect theirs. We might struggle with the similarities…

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CONFUCIUS ON THE LIFE-COURSE

CONFUCIUS ON THE LIFE-COURSE

The Master said, ‘At fifteen I set my heart upon learning At thirty, I had planted my feet upon firm ground. At forty, I no longer suffered from perplexities. At fifty, I knew what were  the biddings of Heaven At sixty, I heard them with a docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what  I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right. -Confucius, ANALECTS For more about Confucius, see the Stanford Encyclopedia…

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Are we ever too old?

Are we ever too old?

The poet Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) wasn’t too old, as shown in this poem, written when Kunitz was nearly a hundred years old: “The Layers” I have walked through many lives, some of them my own, and I am not who I was, though some principle of being abides, from which I struggle not to stray. When I look behind, as I am compelled to look before I can gather strength to proceed on my journey… Though I lack the art…

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Run the course of life’s banquet – approaching old age

Run the course of life’s banquet – approaching old age

One very old way of depicting that shape of our destiny and humanity  is to picture life as a banquet, with a succession of courses through which one proceeds —    and also, to be sure, having a stopping point beyond which the banquet cannot be prolonged without destroying its pleasure. Both host and guest at such a banquet must be able to acknowledge limits —    recognizing that, while these limits may suffuse the end of the banquet or even the…

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later life

later life

  Rainer Marie Rilke’s poem “The Walk” invokes an image of later life, a time of life by which we are grasped even if we cannot grasp it– that “sunny hill” which belongs to old age imagined as ‘our future selves:’ My eyes already touch the sunny hill, going far ahead of the road I have begun. So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp; it has its inner light, even from a distance– and changes us, even if…

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LIFE BEYOND GRIEF

LIFE BEYOND GRIEF

From the vantage point of youth, sorrows in later life seem so relentless that we cannot imagine living through them. We watch elders lose friends and relatives, give up beloved houses, and relinquish cherished involvements.  It an seem that later life is composed of interludes between disasters.  What consolation could there be?  We conclude that old age must be a dire time, indeed. It is only later that we find that fresh life evolves out of each grief.  We must…

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a crowd of stars

a crowd of stars

  When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face; And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur,…

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Ageing is no accident!

Ageing is no accident!

Aging is no accident.  It is necessary to the human condition, intended by the soul. We become more characteristic of who we are simply by lasting into later years; the older we become, the more our true natures emerge. Thus the final years have a very important purpose: the fulfillment and confirmation of one’s character. (James Hillman, THE FORCE OF CHARACTER AND THE LASTING LIFE, 1999) For an overview of Hillman’s works, see: http://www.springpublications.com/hillman.html For a YouTube interview with James…

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The necessity of Age!

The necessity of Age!

OLD MASTERS  How long does it take to become an Old Master?  Longer than one might think: Louise Bourgeois, a great experimental sculptor, once declared ‘I am a long-distance runner. It takes me years and years and years to produce what I do.” Bourgeois made her greatest work after the age of 80. When she was 84, and an interviewer asked whether she could have made one of her recent works earlier in her career, she replied, ‘Absolutely not.’ When…

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AGEING AS TIMELESS

AGEING AS TIMELESS

How do you view your ageing?     In this culture aging is a dirty word. Youth is the thing.  Old people make themselves up to look like young people.  You think you have to do it because youth is what’s “in”.  It’s a cultural thing.  Still, it’s a fact of nature that the body inevitably ages.  How you think about it is up to you…     If you say, ‘I’m a retired person, I’ve retired from my role,’ you are…

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Imagining Age?

Imagining Age?

Here is the opening to my lecture in Southwark Cathedral last night In a science museum, there is one exhibit in particular which attracted long lines of children: “Face Ageing”. A child sits down in front of an automatic camera and has their portrait taken. They wait and their digitized bust appears on a TV  monitor. Then, tapping a button like a VCR remote, each child could rapidly call up simulations of what she or he would look like at…

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MICHELANGELO: The Art of Old Age

MICHELANGELO: The Art of Old Age

                     Did Michelangelo really believe that his life had been wasted because he failed to pursue a spiritual goal? Yes, he did believe that and wrote about in his journal in later life.  Nonetheless, his later works are an astounding example of what critics would later call the “late style” and “late freedom.” Here is  the Rondanini Pietà,a marble sculpture that Michelangelo worked on from the 1550s until the last days of his life, in 1564.     Henry Moore,…

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THE RIPENING IN US

THE RIPENING IN US

    When grapes turn     to wine, they long for our ability to change.     When stars wheel     around the North Pole,     they are longing for our growing consciousness.     Wine got drunk with us,     not the other way.     The body developed out of us, not we from it.     We are bees,     and our body is a honeycomb.     We made     the body, cell by cell we made it.                         -Jalal ad-din Rumi

And what of our old age?

And what of our old age?

From a lecture given 17th October 2012 Chichester WHAT ARE OLDER PEOPLE FOR? The profit motive, the mass media’s love affair with the new, and the anxiety provoked by growing old in a youth obsessed culture have led millions to surrender their faces to the war on wrinkles.  We are being asked to unmake what we have spent a life time making.  What do we receive in return for this sacrifice?  Not youth.  Instead we are given, at best, the…

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The Pleasures of Ageing?

The Pleasures of Ageing?

JAMES HILLMAN:      “Suppose we all lived to be 125, or 185; how would we live? It’s a frightening idea, because it’s a deep denial of something fundamental to the human experience…     Life extension isn’t even enough as a goal. [Scientists] want to prevent dying, to say that dying isn’t really necessary to the human condition… What is it we’re not willing to entertain? That aging has actual pleasures? What ever happened to the pleasure of aging? I guess…

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Growing great?

Growing great?

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”                                   -Greek proverb

GRACE APPROACHING

GRACE APPROACHING

There is a grace approaching that we shun as much as death, it is the completion of our birth. It does not come in time, but in timelessness when the mind sinks into the heart and we remember. It is an insistent grace that draws us to the edge and beckons us surrender safe territory and enter our enormity.     (From Stephen Levine, BREAKING THE DROUGHT:     Visions of Grace, Larson, 2007).