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Pilgrims in a Strange Land: Aging, Illness and Personhood The spiritual journey in later life: A unique model of spiritual tasks and process of ageing.

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Presentation on theme: "Pilgrims in a Strange Land: Aging, Illness and Personhood The spiritual journey in later life: A unique model of spiritual tasks and process of ageing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pilgrims in a Strange Land: Aging, Illness and Personhood The spiritual journey in later life: A unique model of spiritual tasks and process of ageing Rev Prof Elizabeth MacKinlay AM PhD, RN Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies School of Theology, Charles Sturt University

2 Ways of looking at ageing: How old is old? Chronological ageing? The third age of life? The fourth age of life?

3 Attitudes to ageing How do I see myself in later life?  Do I look forward to being older  What does retirement mean? Is this a word that has passed its usefulness?  What value do I put on being an older person?

4 How we look at ageing: Does it make a difference? Later life:  Age of decline (focus on ageing body)?  Successful ageing?  Spiritual journey? To what extent can we choose our ageing journey?

5 Ageing and decline? What do we expect of our ageing? Physical decrements, more aches and pains, decreased energy? Living with more chronic illnesses? Losses of loved ones Moving to assisted living or a nursing home? Fear of becoming dependent?

6 Ageing and growth? Does that seem to be possible? Psychosocial development: Erikson-integrity versus despair. Spiritual development: finding meaning in later life, transcending losses and disabilities. Growing closer to God Ageing is the time when it all (potentially) comes together. How do we find meaning and wholeness in the face of increasing losses and frailty-and even dementia?

7 Spirituality: A Definition That which lies at the core of each person's being, an essential dimension which brings meaning to life. Constituted not only by religious practices, but understood more broadly, as relationship with God, however God or ultimate meaning is perceived by the person, and in relationship with other people. (MacKinlay, 2001)

8 S P I R I TU A L I T Y- Ultimate Meaning Mediated through Religion: Worship Prayer Reading of Scripture Meditation Relationship: Intimacy with others and/or God Creation / Environment: Nature, sea, mountains, gardens, work, human imagination The arts: Music, art, poetry, drama, dance Spirituality and Religion

9 Spirituality in Ageing: Themes Response to Ultimate Meaning Ultimate Meaning in Life self sufficiency/ vulnerability Wisdom / provisional to final meanings relationship/isolation hope/fear MacKinlay 1998

10 Spiritual Tasks & Process of Ageing: A continuing process Response to Ultimate Meaning Ultimate Meaning in Life Transcend loss/ disabilities To find final meanings Find intimacy with God and/or others To find hope MacKinlay 1998

11 Spiritual Tasks of Ageing for Christians: A Continuing Process Response to Ultimate Meaning: Spiritual strategies Ultimate Meaning in Life: Life Centred in God Dying to self (self-transcendence) God’s story+my story (Growing in wisdom & final meanings) Growing into Christ (Intimacy with God) Hope now & future (MacKinlay 2006) Spiritual strategies: including worship, prayer, study, meditation

12 Growing Old in Christ Struggles and joys, Flourishing and fruitful Intimacy with God and or others Being and becoming


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