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The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully Hardcover – May 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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"Chittister beautifully downplays regrets and accents the rewards of a mature life. While she acknowledges the pain of old age, she focuses on the new beginnings that life can offer at this stage. . . . Excellent information and would make a positive contribution to any public library's collection." Library Journal
"Joan Chittister is one of the great spiritual teachers of our generation." Lawrence Kushner, author, Kabbalah: A Love Story
"A prophetic voice that is desperately needed in our troubled time." Karen Armstrong, author, The Great Transformation
Top Customer Reviews
Chittister, a Benedictine sister, is 70 years old. She suggests that she may actually be too young to write this book because life still has lessons left to offer. She "reserves the right to revise this edition when she is ninety." Chittister views how we life at any age to be a choice. We are each given the gift of today. It is up to us what we do with it. She counters the idea that old age need be a time of isolation and loneliness and uselessness. Rather, it can be a time of great connectedness and joy and purpose. It is a time for looking back, not with the pain of regret for opportunities lost, but with understanding of how the life that has been lived has meaning for who we are right now and what our future holds.
Chittister maintains that senior citizens have so much to offer to the world at large. Their wisdom and their stories and their experience are a great gift. They also have the time to get involved. Without the pressures of a 9-to-5 job or raising a family, they can volunteer more, make more of a difference. They have the chance to do all the things that they always wanted to do that there was never time for before. "Age does not forgive us our responsibility to give the world back to God a bit better than it was because we were here.Read more ›
We are indeed fortunate that Chittister decided not to postpone the writing of The Gift of Years, for it is full of the grace of decades of thought and meditation. It is written not only for those of us who are among the old, but for everyone: we are all growing older, and all of us may eventually undertake the search for meaning and fulfillment that lies at the deepest heart of the aging process.
The Gift of Years is a full basket of rich gifts: forty-plus short essays on the many dimensions of eldering, "its purpose and its challenges, its struggles and its surprises." Each essay begins with words of wisdom from someone who has considered the meaning of growing old, then tells a brief story or an anecdote, offers a reflection, and invites us to participate in a meditation on the burden and blessing of the years.
In "Time," for instance, Chittister quotes Pablo Picasso: "It takes a long time to become young." There is an anecdote about a potter named Thomas, who at eighty had lived long enough "to release the beginner in himself again and again." There are reflections: time ages things; time deepens things; time ripens things. And then there is the meditation. The burden of years is allowing time to "hang heavy on my hands," Chittister writes; a blessing of years is to "realize what an important and lively time this final period is.Read more ›
Now that she has passed her seventieth birthday, Chittister explores what it means to grow older gracefully. To do this she has written short (3-5 pages each) meditations on forty themes like regret, ageism, adjustment, letting go, sadness, solitude, success, etc. She begins each chapter with a pithy aphorism from a broad range of poets and prophets, both ancient and modern -- Plato and Picasso, Browning and Byron, Emily Dickinson and Jung. After the brief meditation, she summarizes the chapter by observing both the "burden" and the "blessing" of the theme under consideration. On the idea of the future, for example, she writes, "The burden of these years is to assume that the future is already over. A blessing of these years is to give another whole meaning to what it is to be alive, to be ourselves, to be full of life. Our own life."
Which is to say that much of my future of growing older is what I intentionally choose to make it. We all face the inexorable biology of the body and the deterioration of our physical condition. But we also enjoy the possibilities of the "eternity of the spirit" and the frame of mind we choose to follow. One can choose to age passively or actively, says Chittister.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gave this to my mom who recently retired and who is feeling lost and without purpose. She loves it!!Published 4 days ago by Candy
A true gift from a wonderful mature in many ways author. Can be read as separate chapters to fit your moods at the time. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Lifelong Learner
Joan Chittister is a beacon of light in the emotional and spiritual storm that accompanies ones entry into the senior years. She offers concrete advice on everyday issues. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
wonderful book. appropriate for a mature reader. full of insights and advice.Published 27 days ago by NLB
I am looking for used copies (from one place to keek the cost of shipping down). Have loaned my copy several times.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer