Practising the Vocation of Ageing -- Sarah Bachelard
The vocation of
ageing, as we conceive it, involves two fundamental movements. On the one hand,
there’s a movement of self-completion and integration— reconciling who we are
and have been, what we have done and experienced in a long life. On the other
hand, ageing involves letting go, being willing to relinquish aspects of our
identity and former ways of being.
These two movements
belong to the spiritual journey at any stage of life. Yet, the process of
ageing crystallises and intensifies our engagement with them. As I draw towards
the end of life, the call to make sense of the whole, including my death, grows
stronger; as I experience more starkly the limits of my capacity to ‘make’ and
sustain myself, the necessity to entrust myself to a larger reality also grows.
Paradoxically, these concurrent movements of completion and relinquishment find
their consummation in each other. The more completely our life is realised, the
more we are able to let it go; and the ultimate completion of our life lies in
its final surrender.
What does this
mean in practice? How may this vocation be lived out, not only when we are
capable of agency, but also as we become patients of the inexorable process of
ageing? And what does it mean for those seeking to care for the elderly, and for
the priorities of the community as a whole? This seminar will explore practices
for engaging the vocation of ageing in our own lives and for nurturing its
possibilities in the lives of others.