Spirituality and ageing
The Gift of Years sees spirituality at the heart of what life is all about. There is a growing recognition of the spiritual dimension of ageing, whether someone has a strong religious faith or not. There are probably as many definitions of 'spirituality' as there are unique human beings. Some people, as they age, find meaning and purpose through a love of nature, art, poetry or music.
All of us as we get older reflect more on our past and increasingly ask some of the big questions about life:
- What is it all for?
- Have I led a good life?
- What sort of a legacy will I leave behind?
- What's next for me?
For some people, spirituality lies in their relationship with God and a sense of belonging - being a part of something much bigger than oneself. The church increasingly speaks of lifelong discipleship; The Gift of Years helps people to follow a 'golden thread' of discipleship from birth to death, and beyond, drawing on traditional and contemporary resources to reveal God as God with us through every stage of the complex tapestry of our life.
The New Testament speaks of transformation as our goal as we mature towards having 'the mind of Christ' (1 Corinthians 2:16). If transformation is our goal then, even if we become increasingly incapable physically, it doesn't mean our spiritual lives aren't growing, however imperceptibly. Even if we reach a point of not being able to speak, or feed ourselves, we, hopefully, remain precious to those closest to us and, ultimately, to the source of our being (whoever and however we understand that to be within our own spiritual frame of reference).
Long life is seen in the Bible as a reward, a crowning achievement:
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12 (NIV)
There's a burgeoning body of writing on the subject of spirituality and ageing, seeking to guide people through the big, existential, questions of life. The Gift of Years aims to make it easier for you to find those resources most suitable for you, as well as highlight those you might not have thought of or come across yet (see Resources).
We have also launched a new resource Bible Reflections for Older People. This is presented in a larger format and contains undated Bible reflections on specific themes – for example, 'Changing times' and 'The hope of heaven' – to be used as and when by both individuals and those working/caring with/for older people.