What a surprise to find among a plethora of fine books on conscious aging one that is unique.
Weber and Orsborn consider twenty-five thought-provoking questions on becoming spiritually mature. These questions cover the philosophical homework of anyone who is willing to look within at a certain point in their lives.
In answer to the question, "How can spiritual maturity equip us to face our own unknowns?" Weber writes, "We are not led to ask questions [in ordinary life] that will help us to grapple with the truths and realities of our human existence and that will set us on the path to fashion answers that will give us hope in the face of the unknown and the spiritual experiences to back up this hope."
Part One of the book, "Calling for a New Vision of Spiritual Aging," speaks of how Weber and Orsborn found their path wending towards their own spiritual aging. They write not only from their Catholic and Jewish point of view but from the views of wisdom keepers of the past and present.
Part Two, "A Journey of Spiritual Inquiry," presents a variety of questions: What is Spiritual Maturity? What is Spiritual Awakening? What is Freedom? How Can We Become More Fully Ourselves? What is the Value of Aging to Society? (Exercises are included.) Within each question, Orsborn and Weber write of possible responses, always inviting the reader to respond. In question one, What is a psychologically and spiritually healthy vision of aging? Orsborn writes, "When we strip away the impositions, the fantasies, and the denial, we begin to view aging as holding the potential for activation of new unprecedented levels of self-affirmation, meaning and spiritual growth."
Weber observes in question nine, What do you think the Sacred wants to awaken you to? that American analyst Heinz Kohut's "vision of human development is an awareness of the deep yearning in all of us to be seen, protected, comforted, and loved for who we are."
Are all of the questions and responses focused upon positive aspects of spiritual aging? No. We are encouraged to look at our difficult times and consider that the future will not all be sweetness and light. However, they do guide us towards positive responses to difficult issues and lead us to examine ourselves in ways we might otherwise ignore. I look forward to using these questions in an Elder or Wisdom Circle where participants can consider and respond orally or in writing. They will stimulate if one works alone, with friends or family or a small group. We need to ask these questions of ourselves.
Carol Osborn, Ph.D. is the founder of the site "Fierce with Age" and has written more than 25 books. She frequently blogs on Huffington Post. Robert Weber, Ph.D. is a former Jesuit and is an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
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