Book Review by Marlene Depler
The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister
I look in the mirror and see the signs, the wrinkles and the gray hairs tucked between my highlights. Some signs sneak up almost unnoticeably while others are not so subtle. One thing is for sure: I AM aging! With this marching on of time, I am experiencing a wide range of thoughts and emotions. Some I bemoan to my husband or close friends, but many thoughts I never verbalize. And in spite of my best efforts, I see myself becoming more irrelevant in the world in which I live.
Recently, I started reading Joan Chittister's book, The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully. What a breath of fresh air! Her perspective is both honest and insightful. In the introduction Joan writes, "It is time for us to let go of both our fantisies of eternal youth and our fears of getting older, and to find the beauty of what it means to age well." I couldn't agree more.
Joan has written forty short chapters filled with wisdom. Some of the chapters included are Fear, Forgiveness, Fulfillment, Faith, and Freedom. Others chapters are Legacy, Limitations, Loneliness, and Letting Go. Each chapter bears pondering. Don't expect to fly through this book like a novel. I'm reading mine with a highlighter in hand to mark the passages that I want to reread again.
In the chapter titled Regret, Joan writes how that often what "pretends to be reflection" and "claims to be insight" slips into brooding, dragging us down. She says, "Regret is a temptation. It entices us to lust for what never was..." Then we may "doubt the God who made us."
Joan's overall message is to see aging is a gift. (It means we didn't die young!) We should not abandon our lives prematurely---before life in this world is truly over. This season is different that the previous seasons of our lives. Nevertheless, we can embrace it and live it fully.
Joan's words are making me often say to myself, Don't quit the game in the fourth quarter! Play on to the finish! This is a book I will read multiple times in the coming years. (I'm even considering leading a discussion group using this book as the focus.)
I hope you will pick up this book---maybe buy it for yourself for Christmas. Then if you enjoy it, recommend it to a friend. Whatever you do, appreciate your days and years, live fully until the time comes for "melting into God."
(c) 2009 Marlene Depler