After sixty years as Queen of England, Elizabeth is now enjoying her eighties.


WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH OUR LIVES
BETWEEN AGES SIXTY AND EIGHTY ?


For those who are in their very late fifties like me, or even a little older, please know that you are very welcome with us in DCI, and here is something special for you from Henri Nouwen, in the Diary of His Final Year, who asks the question,

"What shall we do with our lives between ages sixty and eighty ?

" For me this is an increasingly important question, which is not without anxiety. Over the years I have built up a certain reputation. People think of me as a priest, a spiritual writer, a member of a community with mentally handicapped people, a lover of God, and a lover of people. It is wonderful to have such a reputation. But lately I find I get caught in it and I experience it as restricting. Without wanting to, I feel a certain pressure within me to keep living up to that reputation and to do, say, and write things that fit the expectations of the Church, the L'Arche Community, my family, my friends, my readers. I'm caught because I'm feeling that there is some kind of an agenda that I must follow in order to be faithful.
 
But since I am in my sixties, new thoughts, feelings, emotions, and passions have arisen within me that are not all in line with my previous thoughts, feelings, emotions, and passions. So I find myself asking, "What is my responsibility to the world around me, and what is my responsibility to myself? What does it mean to be faithful to my call? Does it require that I be consistent with my earlier way of living or thinking, or does it ask for the courage to move in new directions. I am more and more aware that Jesus died when he was in his early thirties. I have already lived more than thirty years longer than Jesus. How would Jesus have lived and thought if he had lived that long? I don't know. But for me many new questions and concerns emerge at my present age that weren't there in the past. They refer to all the levels of life: community, prayer, friendship, intimacy, work, church, God, life, and death. How can I be free enough and let the questions emerge without fearing the consequences?

Henri Nouwen.


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