Thank you so much for giving Bob and I this opportunity to share our book with your community. In a youth-centric society that privileges the young and reviles ageing, it’s no surprise that so many of us have been understandably challenged by the notion of growing old. Given who you all are, you will also find it as no surprise that there are many of us who are not only meeting but exceeding the challenges ageing brings our way.
The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Aging (Inner Traditions, October, 2015) addresses head-on how to make the transition from the height of midlife, into the breaking of denial, plummeting through doubt and fear and emerging into a fuller, richer appreciation of the next phase of our lives. It is the first book about spirituality and ageing written from both the male and female point of view, encompassing multiple spiritual and religious perspectives. (Dr. Weber is a psychologist affiliated with Harvard and a former Jesuit; I’m a Jewish scholar with a doctorate in religion.) Both as fellow boomers, and as two of the top experts in the fields of spirituality and aging, we beckon readers to stop viewing ageing as a problem to be solved. Rather, we teach that ageing in and of itself can be a spiritual experience.
Based on 25 key questions of both practical and ultimate concern, the process of answering each one in depth reveals that it is through engaging with the mystery of ageing and mortality that growing older raises that we not only learn to cope—but to soar. From questions like “Which qualities did you neglect in the first half of your life that you are now free to develop?” to “What is the dynamic tension between accepting marginalization and fighting against it?” the reader is guided on a journey that is both illuminating and transformational.
The initiation of this book began with a chance meeting on a stairwell landing in San Francisco in the spring of 2011. Fellow presenters at the Annual Meeting of the American Society (ASA) on Ageing, we began a conversation that continued for over an hour, spilling over into an on-going dialogue that ultimately resulted in this book.
It became immediately apparent that we had each been on parallel spiritual journeys. Coming from diverse backgrounds, each of us had experienced a degree of loneliness as we bucked the pervasive ethos that privileged “staying active” as the hallmark of successful aging. Contemplative qualities such as stillness and acceptance were often mistaken for apathy.
During that first conversation, we established that this error in understanding was not only shared at this particular conference, but in the gerontology field, as a whole
Bob and Carol
WHO ARE WE?
The two of us bring divergent—while synergistic—backgrounds to this project. Bob is a former Jesuit and a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who has authored numerous articles for professional journals. My doctorate is in the History and Critical Theory of Religion, specializing in spiritual development. I’ve authored numerous books for and about quality of life for the Boomer generation as we have progressed through multiple life stages.
I am also editor-in-chief of Fierce with Age: The Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration and Spirituality, a free monthly Digest featuring the best content about spirituality and ageing. www.FierceWithAge.com.
We have increasingly overlapping circles of influence. But above all, we share the same sense of mission: the urge to share our spiritual process and discoveries as we transit from midlife into older age, and to invite others into the dialogue
Establishing and maintaining both a hopeful and realistic vision of the aging process is new ground for us all, even for professionals in the gerontology field. The Seeker’s Guide to Ageing is not only destined to become a spiritual classic, but the prayer of a generation.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT THE BOOK
“Best book I have ever read on this most significant passage. . . Are you a Boomer on a white-knuckled ride trying to shift into reverse on aging? We all try. This knowing book will relax your grip. The authors illuminate the path of spiritual growth, leading us to come to terms with where we have failed and to make the passage to what really matters. Beautifully written, both from deep research and even deeper personal experience by the authors, a former Jesuit and a Jewish woman and Ph.D.” --Gail Sheehy, Author of Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life and Daring:My Passages.
“At last, a book about aging that that does not envision it as a problem to be solved or even as a challenge to be overcome! It greets growing older, which happens to us all, if we are lucky, as a gift and an opportunity. But The Spirituality of Age is not just a book for oldsters. With age comes at least a little wisdom, and that wisdom is shareable for people in any age cohort. I savored this fine volume and commend it to anyone still searching, as I hope we all are, for the fullness of life.” --Harvey Cox, Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, Harvard University, Author of The Future of Faith and How to Read the Bible.
“This wise and lovely book invites readers to take their aging seriously and honestly as a time for growing into spiritual wisdom. The authors ask us to ponder with them 25 questions that will help us to such wisdom. They reveal themselves as they strive to answer the questions they pose and in the process draw us toward developing our own spirituality of age. Readers will, as I do, thank them for their generosity and their wisdom.” --Reverend William Barry SJ, Author of Finding God in All Things: A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and Praying the Truth: Deepening Your Friendship with God through Honest Prayer.
“This little book, built around questions to which each of us will have different and individual answers, emphasizes by its very structure that in our era old age can be a time of growth and spiritual discovery, a time of fulfillment of life, rather than its dreary aftermath.” --Mary Catherine Bateson, Cultural anthropologist, Author of Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
“All of us get older, few of us get wiser. As we search for an "authentic" spiritual practice we ignore the one we were given when we were born: aging. Bob Weber and Carol Orsborn's The Spirituality of Age places you firmly on this path. This is a book to be read, but more importantly lived.”
--Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Author, Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent
The authors, Robert Weber and Carol Orsborn, include the reader in their personal journey. They openly share their personal challenges, setbacks, distractions and learnings as they seek deeper meaning in their lives as they age.
These days we often hear the word "spirituality". The spiritual search is a vital and continuous area of personal reflection for these authors. They encourage each of us to define the meaning of that word for ourselves. This book opens the door for all of us to explore our own growth, insights, inner peace, and continued learning that is calling to us as we age.”--Connie Goldman, Author of Who Am I Now That I'm Not Who I Was?
“To my delight, this book prompted me to ask questions of myself that I had never posed before with so much clarity. The authors each respond to these questions themselves, a unique approach that is not ponderous or heavy-handed. I found myself leaving the safety of reader-as-spectator and entering the provocation of reader-as-participant. My own spiritual inquiry began to breathe more freshly.”--Wendy Lustbader, MSW, Author of Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older, and Counting on Kindness: The Dilemmas of Dependency
“For those of us heeding the call to spiritual deepening in our elder years, The Spirituality of Age is a unique resource. The questions that form the core of this inspiring book are those that many of us carry on this journey. And the rich, experience-filled responses of the co-authors as well as the exercises they suggest will be invaluable in helping readers understand the many facets of their own spiritual potential and development as they age.”--Ron Pevny, Author of Conscious Living, Conscious Aging and Director of the Center for Conscious Eldering
“In The Spirituality of Age, Robert Weber and Carol Orsborn have penned an exceptionally wise and timely book. Wrestling with the hard spiritual questions that so often disturb our later years, they dig deep for personal answers and generously encourage the reader to do likewise. Get ready, you may find yourself revising everything you think about aging and in the process making peace with your own answers. Perfect for personal growth, book clubs, and classes.” --John C. Robinson, Ph .D., D.Min. Psychologist, Interfaith Minister, Author of The Three Secrets of Aging, Bedtime Stories for Elders, and What Aging Men Want
“Friends ‘on the way’, Carol and Bob have created a masterpiece! The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older, is a must-read for all facing the quest for meaning and purpose in later life. With their honest, profound, and often witty, point-counterpoint perspectives on 25 of the major challenges of the gift of years, this book will enrich and deepen the lives of all of its readers and will be especially helpful to those guiding older adults on the path of psycho-spiritual growth in the second half of life. I am buying copies for all of my over-50 friends for Christmas! --Jane Marie Thibault, Ph.D., Clinical Gerontologist and Professor Emerita, University of Louisville Medical School, Author of A Deepening Love Affair: The Gift of God in Later Life and Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life: 7 Gateways to Spiritual Growth (with Richard L. Morgan)
Editor: Carol and Bob are very kindly donating an e-copy of The Spirituality of Age. The competition will be announced soon. Many thanks to you both.