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Category Archives: Third Age

Endings and Beginnings

As I write this, the Elderwomen series described on this blog is coming to an end.  Ten of us met on a monthly basis beginning in September 2010, braving this exceptionally cold, snowy, and ice-coated Northeastern winter. What a hearty, intrepid, and wise group of women! While the gatherings are coming to an end (a beginning!),  there may be green off-shoot groups growing, after we experience our March Initiation. “Initiation,” after all, means beginning. So keep an eye on this blog to see what is offered next.

You may also wish to see the February Elderwoman newsletter published by my friend Marian. In it she describes the Spring flowers which are already appearing near her home in England. Spring carries especially rich symbolism after a hard Winter. Rebirth, resurrection, renewal.

The above photo of emerging snowdrops was taken in my garden on March 7, 2010. Dream on it! What tender green shoots of hope, life, and endeavor are waiting to emerge in your life, or in the wider world?

Autumn Years

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Photo by Seth Rockmuller

In preparing for the upcoming series Growing Older, Growing Wiser: Becoming an Elderwoman, I came across the article below, which was written when I first decided to present the series. It was originally published in The Eddy, the newsletter of the organization Wellspring Haven.

Autumn Reflections,   by Katharine Houk

Lately, a cold wind has been rattling the last, clinging leaves of autumn.  The mellow days have passed; winter is almost upon us. The harvest is in, my herb garden has been put to bed, and the geese are winging south.

At this autumn time, I am very aware that I have entered what is sometimes referred to as the “autumn” of life, even though inside I feel young, vital, and creative. In the past decade, I have given much thought to what it means to be entering the Third Age of my life: reading, talking with older women, revisiting my past, deepening spiritual practices, conducting research. I wish to live these years in a conscious and fruitful way, savoring each moment.

This autumn I attended a conference especially for women who have discovered that age is something to celebrate. There I enjoyed workshops, drumming, dancing, an “Honoring of the Elders,” small group gatherings, storytelling, and a beautiful labyrinth in the woods, where some deer and two owls appeared at twilight to accompany me on my otherwise solitary walk. Over two hundred women were at the conference, with the workshops being led by the women attending, much as Wellspring Haven conducts its Annual Women’s Campout. Women’s circles are thriving everywhere. It was fascinating to attend a conference designed expressly for Elderwomen, and I came away feeling as though I had experienced an initiation into my Third Age…

Delightfully, being in the autumn of life feels enormously liberating, as I find myself more at peace than ever before.  It’s a feeling of lightness, and spaciousness.  In my life I have learned from many experiences, both joyful and painful, and I intend to keep learning and growing as long as I am able.  Each of us has her life story, rich with experience and insight.  Sharing those stories empowers us.

Entering these final decades can be challenging, considering the changes which aging brings and the social attitudes toward older women in our culture. We are “crones,” or “hags” – two words that used to have very different connotations than they do now.  “Crone” comes from the same root as the word “crown,” and “hag” mean “holy one,” which is why the study of saints’ lives is known as hagiography. It’s time to reclaim the honor that those words formerly conveyed.

…Becoming an Elderwoman, a Wisewoman, is an ongoing process.   Growing older in and of itself is no guarantee of growing wiser.  Here is my (and our) “how-to” challenge and adventure:  How To Become an Elderwoman, someone aging with grace, good humor, joy, and wisdom.   There are things we can do to make our autumn journeys conscious ones, as we deepen our awareness of who we truly are and how we want to live our Third Age.  Let’s grow older and wiser together!

 

Special Guest: Marian Van Eyk McCain – 9/12/10

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Marian Van Eyk McCain

Marian Van Eyk McCain, author of Elderwoman: Reap the Wisdom – Feel the Power – Embrace the Joy, will speak on Sunday, September 12th, 2010, at 2 PM, upstairs in the Community Room at Chatham Real Food Market Co-op. (Please note that the Co-op is not open for business on Sundays.)

Marian’s most recent book is GreenSpirit: Path to a New Consciousness, which she edited. This collection of diverse voices reveals deep thinking on the connections between ecology and spirituality. All are welcome to attend this event, which is sponsored by Sanctuary Without Walls.

Please RSVP so that we will have enough seats for everyone. And please share this message with your friends. Marian rarely travels by plane (she lives in England) because of the environmental impact of jet travel, so we’re fortunate to have time with her. Save the date!

Marion also writes fiction (The Bird Menders) as well as her marvelous books on simplifying one’s life (The Lilypad List: 7 Steps to the Simple Life) and women’s health and spirituality (Transformation Through Menopause).

Last year at a conference, I overheard a woman saying that the book Elderwoman was her “bible” on aging and spirituality. Marian’s visit in September will take place just days before the beginning of Sanctuary Without Wall’s seven-part monthly series for women 55 and older: Growing Older, Growing Wiser: Becoming an Elderwoman. Marian’s book is one of the resources used in planning this series for women.

People of all ages / genders are welcome to attend her talk on September 12th. To RSVP or for more information, contact info@sanctuarywithoutwalls.org.

GreenSpirit Poster

Growing Wiser: Elderwomen Meetings Begin in September

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“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” Eleanor Roosevelt

What follows is a description of a SWW event from 2010-2011.

We stand at a time when the world is in need of wisdom, especially the wisdom of the Elders.  Growing Older, Growing Wiser: Becoming an Elderwoman is a seven-part event designed to lead us thoughtfully, consciously, and joyfully into our Third Age. We will look deeply at our lives so far; discover (and re-discover) those things that are life- and energy-giving for us; separate the grain from the chaff; and step forward into our role as Elderwomen, which will be unique to each of us.

Join us for this important and life-affirming journey. For women, age 55 and older, meeting in Columbia County, NY. Second Tuesday of each month, September 14, 2010 through March 8, 2011.

 

Welcome home!

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Welcome home to Sanctuary Without Walls.  SWW sponsors gatherings and other events in Columbia County, NY  ~   for spiritual sustenance, naturally.  It is a home for

  • those who wish to develop or deepen their spiritual practices and lives, but who may or may not have a religious community in which to do so, or
  • who wish to supplement their experiences with a more diverse group. These gatherings are an experiment, born of my interactions with many people who feel a need for connection, community, and spirituality, grounded in everyday life.

Welcome to Sanctuary Without Walls!