"Transition and Transcendence: Transforming Aging through Spirituality"
When we serve aging people, we are automatically involved in their navigation of transitions. For what is aging, but a time of change and transition? We know that all of life is brings change, but it hits us with new force in our later years when we face many significant life changes in a relatively short period of time. We move from worker with a title, to retired person with no place to go on Monday morning; we transition from being the driver to being the passenger; we move from a beloved, long-term (often large) home to a new, smaller dwelling place. Our once robust health and independence is replaced with chronic health and mobility issues. We may lose a spouse or partner, and transition from couple to single person.
Our challenge is to maintain a sense of equilibrium and a resiliency that allows us to thrive in a time of change and transition. Keith Albans, host of the 5th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality and introductory speaker at the 6th International Conference, noted that “consideration of spirituality and aging points us to powers and strengths that can flourish in the context of growing older.”
This conference’s theme of “Transition and Transcendence: Transforming Aging through Spirituality” invites us to come together to consider the vital role of spirituality in navigating the many transitions experienced as we age. How do we, as persons who are growing older ourselves and who serve older adults, encourage ourselves and encourage them to find the spiritual paths and practices that will sustain them - and us - through hard change and loss? And how does our spirituality help us to move from focusing on our own needs and pains to seeing ourselves as part of a wider world, where in spite of limitations, there is still much we can offer and needs we can meet? How do we engage the wider cultures in which we live in conversation about the possibilities and promises of aging in the midst of all these transitions? In short, how can we harness the power of the spirit available to all of us to transform aging wherever we live?