Well-known in Catholic circles for her willingness to take on anybody-even the pope-in defense of women's rights, Chittister, now in her 70s, examines how it feels "to be facing that time of life for which there is no career plan." Clearly, getting older has not diminished the controversial nun, activist, lecturer and author of nearly 40 books on feminism, nonviolence and Benedictine wisdom. This collection of inspirational reflections, "not meant to be read in one sitting, or even in order, but one topic at a time," abounds in gentle insights and arresting aphorisms: "'Act your age' can be useful advice when you're seventeen; it's a mistake when you're seventy-seven." Beginning each short chapter with a trenchant quotation ("'It takes a long time,' Pablo Picasso wrote, 'to become young'"), she ponders topics such as fear, mystery, forgiveness and legacy. Old age is rich for those who choose to thrive, not wither: "We can recreate ourselves in order to be creative in the world in a different way than the boundaries of our previous life allowed."
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Here are two more self-help books aimed at the generation that refuses to grow old. In The Gift of Years, Benedictine sister 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 and discusses the need to stay involved, to put one's affairs in order, and to be open to new relationships.
Psychoanalyst Schwalbe, on the other hand, dispels negative stereotypes and proposes a number of efforts men (or women) can undertake to make their senior years as rewarding and as satisfying as possible. He discusses cognitive fitness, caregiving, grief, and changes in living arrangements. Two particularly helpful chapters deal with what to do when the late-life goals of spouses differ and how to repartner after death or divorce. Both books offer excellent information and would make a positive contribution to any public library's collection.
From the Publisher
"Chittister beautifully downplays regrets and accents the rewards of a mature life." Library Journal, starred review
"This collection of inspirational reflections . . . abounds in gentle insights and arresting aphorisms." Publishers Weekly
“We can all draw strength from Chittister’s essays on regret, nostalgia, and forgiveness. She reminds readers of all generations that aging doesn’t have to be a depressing series of losses.” School Library Journal
"Perhaps you have to be in the second half of life to know how truthfully and helpfully Joan Chittister speaks. We live in a first-half-of-life culture, which makes this wisdom all the more necessaryand all the more wonderful." Richard Rohr, author, The Naked Now
"A prophetic voice that is desperately needed in our troubled time." Karen Armstrong, author, The Great Transformation
"It's the best book I have read on the subject of aging, a dazzling work radiant with gems of insight on every page. It will be my spiritual reading in the days ahead." Andrew Greeley, author, The Great Mysteries
"Brims with insight, pluck, verve and courage. . . . It shows us both the joys and the challenges of growing older, and encourages us to discover the deep spiritual meaning that can come with older age." Helen Prejean, author, Dead Man Walking
"An amazing compendium of wisdom not only for people facing aging or providing support, but for everyone who wants to live a spiritually centered and balanced life." Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun Magazine