Volume 12.1 Spring/Summer 2014

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: Relflections 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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Well Seasoned: How Spiritual Companioning prepares us for our Death

“Who do you know that is dying, like I am?” Her feet are a step or two away from leaving earth, and I’ve come to say goodbye. This is her hello to me. We aren’t wasting time, for she has no time left to waste. “Are there others our age that are almost done, like me?” Jill* is about my age. We go way back, about forty years’ worth. In our twenties, we married within a few years of each another. Since then, we’ve traversed decades of work and play, questions and faith, prayer and vacations, babies and toddlers, teens and college kids, weddings of now-grown children, celebrations and heartaches. Amid the flood-waters of my long-ago divorce, she and her husband, Peter*, one of my college classmates, waded in beside me. Six years ago, they celebrated the joy of my new marriage. We’ve cried and prayed over the years. We’ve laughed and talked over the miles between us. Now I walk with her, for a bit, to the end of her earthly road.

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Older & Wiser: Seven Attitudes for Sustaining Love and Relationship

Some time ago a friend asked me, “How would you define maturity?” I could see this was more than a rhetorical question and there was an answer lurking behind his inquiry. I fed him the line he wanted, “How would you define maturity?” He quickly fired back, “I think it can be summed up with one critical skill: the ability to postpone immediate pleasure for long-term gain.” He expounded on how this concept was so critical yet undeniably absent from the lives of his teenage children.

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The Crisis of Mentorship: What Young Leaders Desperately Need From Those Who Have Gone Before

I was on the edge of giving up—deserted, doubtful, depressed, and done. At this point in my faith journey, I questioned everything: my trust in God, my love for the church, my mentoring relationships, and my call to ministry. Never had I considered the possibility that I wasn’t actually called to vocational ministry, but a turn of events within the context of the church left nothing off the table of scrutiny.

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Aging & Maturing: A Purposeful Movement Towards Teleious

Greeting-card slogans and our age-phobic culture color the incessant but natural process of aging, emphasizing its challenges, limitations, and frustrations. But because we are spiritual beings, God’s Spirit has the power to bring to our consciousness some alternative responses to aging, ever reminding us that we are made for more than an earthly existence.

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A Season of Mystery: Spiritual Practices for the Second Half of Life

I am studying a photo of my mom in Barcelona, a picture taken twenty-five years ago; in it she is the age I am now. A slim brunette sitting in the shadows of a Moorish hotel garden beside my handsome dad, she could be thirty-five, forty, or even a young fifty, but surely not what she actually is: about to begin her seventh decade. She has never been to Spain before, they are here to celebrate their anniversary, and there is no hint on her calm and happy face that within four years of this culminating moment she will be a widow, and that life will have changed forever.

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