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Soul Discovery
Flourishing in the First & Second Halves of Life

A journey into the second half of our own lives awaits us all. Not everybody goes there, even though all of us get older, and some of us get older than others. A “further journey” is a well-kept secret, for some reason. Many people do not even know there is one. There are too few who are aware of it, tell us about it, or know that it is different from the journey of the first half of life. So why should I try to light up the path a little? Why should I presume that I have anything to say here? And why should I write to people who are still on their first journey, and happily so?

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Flourishing in Unhurried Community

Before I was given this gift of a leadership community of grace, my ministry had been more about gathering a crowd than about cultivating a community of the committed, following Jesus together with them. My style of ministry was hurried and frantic. My goal was to fill the calendar with more events and fill the seats with more people. I would never have said it that bluntly, but it would have been hard for an objective observer to come to a different conclusion. I felt satisfied and important when the number of college students coming to our meetings was growing. I felt frustrated and worthless when that number decreased or even stayed the same. In conversations among our church staff at the time, we would say, “We count people because people count.” I don’t think that kind of math made anyone but us feel important.

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The Call to Flourish so that our Neighbor can Flourish

While on a long flight,  I finished listening to my favorite pieces by John Coltrane then opened some music I had recently downloaded but not yet heard. It was a recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, played by Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. The piece, intense and passionate, has been very important to me over the years. I hadn’t noticed that this recording included a short video excerpt of Bell and the orchestra during a recording session, playing an especially dramatic passage. When I opened the file, the video suddenly began to play.

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How to Live Well
Eternal Life Begins Now

EDITOR’S NOTE: When we settled on the theme of flourishing for this issue, we knew we had to include the voice of Dallas Willard, whose teachings and vision have undergirded the mission of Conversations since its inception. We couldn’t think of a better person to introduce this concept, and no better piece than this excerpt from his last public lectures, the Knowing Christ Conference, sponsored by the Dallas Willard Center for Christian Spiritual Formation at Westmont College. These talks were subsequently published in book format, and you can read all of Dallas’s inspired words in Living in Christ’s Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God. Dallas is now living fully in eternity, and while we miss him, we are grateful to him and those who carry on his legacy of great teaching on the kingdom of God.

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Letting Go of the False Self
How the Enneagram can Help You Find the True You

Our daughter Elisa still remembers a terrifying moment in the produce section of our grocery store. She was young, too young for school, but old enough to be walking the aisles of the grocery store with Mommy. Somewhere between the lettuce and the grapefruit, she let go of my hand and wandered a few feet away. Ready to return to the security of my presence, she reached up to take my hand. Horrors! That was not  Mommy up there.

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God, Where Are You? What Are You Doing?

The practices that had been so dear to her, so life giving, were dry as dust. Those specials places of connection with God, those times of receiving consolation from God were gone—dried up—and she was left wondering in a barren wasteland, lost and alone. She felt abandoned, forsaken of God, even in danger of losing her faith. As she stood before me, her despair was palpable. Here I was, a seminary student, her adult Sunday School teacher, but I did not know what to say.

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Gathering Widsom: The Golden Fruit of Later Years

When the editors of Conversations Journal decided to do an issue of aging and passages, we knew we had in our own community a voice to speak wisely and well to us. In Emilie Griffin’s latest book, Green Leaves for Later Years, she shares wisdom from her seventy-five-year spiritual journey.

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Get Real? At My Age?

In my early thirties, my brown-black hair began forming a silver streak across the front. Over the years, I had great fun making the most of the black-silver contrast framing my face. But a while ago, gray hair began filling in all over my head. The contrast faded. I looked old. Was that okay? I was stuck because I had vowed I would never color my hair to look younger. I’d been proud that my fingernails, toenail color, and hair color were real. I reasoned that Scripture offers positive comments about gray hair: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life”; “the glory of youths is their strength, but the beauty of the aged is their gray hair” (Proverbs 16:31; 20:29 NRSV).

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Wisdom, Silence, and Learning How to Die

Tara Owens:

So, our topic for this issue of Conversations is “Wisdom and Aging.” We have a wide readership—from lay leaders to pastors, from parents with small children to those with great-grandchildren, people who are single, and married, and divorced. They come from all the streams of Christianity.

One of the big questions many of our readers are struggling with when it comes to this topic is how to age well, how to live out their older years with grace. Other readers are asking how to find wisdom in a world that seems to require it of us at younger and younger ages.

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Living Like We’re Dying: Reflections and Exercising for Wise Aging

Change can be hard, especially when we are unprepared for that change. Remember puberty, for example. So much was happening in your body, mind, and emotions. Ideally, loving adults help teens prepare for those changes in advance. Yet, as we hit our twenties and thirties, most of us are left to navigate life fairly unprepared. What do you wish someone had helped you prepare for in the season of life you are currently in? Is there someone you could mentor through a season of life you have already been through?

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