Spirituality & Aging at Any Age

“Experiencing God’s presence on the journey of life”–to my ears, that’s a much more attractive title for a seminar than “Spirituality and Aging.”

After all, aging is not exactly a positive word. The other day, someone referred to an older relative he hadn’t seen for sometime, and said “He’s really aged.” It didn’t sound like a compliment.

For Adults Only?

And yet, aging is not only for older adults. From birth into childhood and beyond, we are all aging–it’s part of the journey of life, and each stage has its unique tasks and challenges. According to Erik Erikson’s Developmental Theory, infancy is a primary time to develop trust vs. mistrust, and as we grow and change we encounter new challenges.

Age pyramid of population estimates as of July 1, 1982 and 2012, Canada

Canada’s Pyramid of Ages, 1982 and 2012

As part of our seniors ministry, this last weekend my congregation invited spiritual director and teacher Marcus Smucker to help us reflect on the unique tasks of the later years. Yet as he spoke, I couldn’t help but think how people of different ages have much more in common than we are different. So instead of focusing only on those in their later years, I found myself writing down choice quotes that apply to spirituality for adults at any age.

Spirituality At Any Age

“Even when we don’t think about it, God is in all our experiences.”

“Spirituality is about openness to God, and how we dedicate ourselves to God’s interest in the world.”

Reading Scripture prayerfully: “Not reading for information, but in a meditative way . . . it’s not about mastery but about receptivity.”

“God is more passionate about you than you can imagine.”

“Honest communication with God is deeply significant in prayer.”

“It is important to experience the undergirding of God and being resourced by the Spirit.”

Quoting Carl Jung: “Busyness is not just from the devil. It is the devil.”

Quoting Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

See what I mean? With all due respect to the unique challenges that come with different ages and stages of life, these things seem to speak to the heart whether you’re 18, 28, or 80 or more.

Thank you, Marcus, for sharing your wisdom and experience with us.



Categories: Church and Ministry, Spiritual Practice

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6 replies

  1. Sounds like it was a very meaningful seminar! As one of Marcus’ students I had the opportunity to hear him say some of those things quite often. His words about the practice of meditation (“it’s not about mastery but about receptivity”) have been especially important for me in the preaching process too. I totally agree with you-these statements have a wide age application.

  2. Thanks, Chris. Another thing Marcus said on the Sunday morning that I’m still thinking about, commenting on the story of Mary listening to Jesus and Martha being distracted (Luke 10:38-42): “In the western world we are all Marthas. . . . The spiritual depth of the church has been greatly impacted by our wealth and distraction.”

  3. Just a little correction, April. It was Martha who was serving, and Mary who was being distracted (from her hostess role, by listening to Jesus).

  4. I really enjoyed reading this post, April. I have just turned 70 and suddenly that number threw me for a loop. I’m getting my perspective back by running around the house with my grandchildren, pretending I’m a monster and grabbing them as they race past me shrieking with laughter. I laugh, just hearing them laugh, and it’s like drinking from the fountain of youth!