I was inspired by watching a program on PBS the other night called “Get Real: Wise Women Speak”. This documentary consisted of interviews with a number of accomplished women, now becoming older, who reflected on what aging means to them. They talked about the hardships and the satisfaction of aging and what older women can contribute to the world and to the younger generation. The women came from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and their experiences were both poignant and varied. A central theme of their conversations revolved around spirituality and aging.
There are as many definitions and paths to spirituality as there are individual people, yet many people experience events at some point in their lives that don’t seem to fit into any other category of experience. One common element seems to be “aha” experiences that provide flashes of insight into our relationships with our self, others, and the world–insights that go beyond our ordinary understanding. Another element is the ripening of the fruits of our life experiences, both good and painful, into a form of wisdom. Yet another element is finding our relationship to the vastness and mystery of the universe and human existence and feeling connected to that in some way.
In youth, most of us are concerned with worldly things, the fulfillment of cultural roles and the needs of the ego. We discover who we are in the world, but may or may not discover our own inner truths and our deeper authentic selves. The spiritual journey may begin at any stage in life but often evolves in the second half of life, usually after the age of 50. This journey often leads to more questions than answers, but can also lead us to a sense of peace and joy that may have been elusive in our younger years.
1) Have you had experiences that you would consider spiritual?
2) What does the term “spirituality” mean to you?
3) What purpose does spirituality serve in your life and how do you cultivate the spiritual part of your life?
4) If you don’t relate to this concept, what is it that gives you a sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment?
5) Share one or two experiences that have led you to grow spiritually and in what ways you feel you have grown. What wisdom have you acquired?