November 11, 2011

Twice now I’ve run with a friend in for the last six miles of a marathon. My role is to boost spirits at the end of a race that seems so daunting and impossible. It is not about my wants or needs but about encouraging my friend as we move one step closer to the finish line.
This image has been in my thoughts recently as I’ve reflected on my parents’ lives in their later years. In a eulogy for my dad, the Bishop noted that even in the last few weeks of his life; my dad was an active participant in the spiritual life of the community. In the last few days of his life, he touched us all by blessing each of his grandchildren as they came to visit.
My 80+ mother is now living with me for extended periods of time. Even though she needs assistance with day-to-day matters, her spiritual life continues to be her center and where she draws wisdom. She also continues to be a faithful participant in the life of a faith community. My role is to encourage and enable her spiritual life so she does not lose touch with that center of wisdom.
Paul speaks of the “fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). My visual image has expanded from a single running partner to a whole community providing encouragement as our elders continue their spiritual journeys.
I am thankful that the ICFL is offering a workshop about “Spiritual Vitality after 70” on Saturday, November 19, for all of us in this race. It is an opportunity for both those nearing the finish line and their running partners to join in “a day of discovery—finding abundant life in the natural process of aging and the life long journey with God.”
—Anne Karoly, Staff Officer to the Director and Associate Dean