A path through the forest

If you are more than 60 years old or ever expect to be, you should read this book.

Paula. Huston. A Season of Mystery

Paula Huston was raised in a Lutheran family in the Midwest. She left Christianity in her twenties and she returned to the faith twenty years later. (Huston. Forgiveness. 1-48). She is a Camaldolese Benedictine oblate affiliated with the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California. She is on the faculty at Seattle Pacific University in the Master of Fine Arts in writing program after taking an early retirement from the MFA program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Her writing combines the genres of creative nonfiction and spiritual memoir. The chapters in her books explore her personal experiences, reflections on significant models from Christian history, and insights from relevant biblical passages.

This book begins with the telling of a recent significant event in her life. At almost 60 years old she was holding a picture of her mother taken at the same age 25 years earlier. There is no hint in this picture of a  youthful, happy woman that her life would change forever in four years. As she looked at the picture, her mother was facing the challenges and difficult choices of people in their 80’s.

A few years ago I faced a similar event. I was sitting at my desk thinking about what had just happen. My mother had sold her home and her car. Her furniture was sold or given away and she moved into a retirement community. As I was thinking and praying, my mind focused on one thing. Mom is twenty-four years older than I am. Twenty-four years is not next Wednesday but it is also not eternity. If Christ does not return or I do not die suddenly, I will take the same journey away from the life I now have.

The book begins with a chapter titled “arriving” which sets the context for the journey described in the book. It addresses the anti-Christian death-denying aspects of our culture. It ends with “departing” in which Huston reflects on the principles discussed in the book and their impact on the people whose life stories she tells. The chapters in between contain portions of the stories of the people whose struggles and victories are detailed in the book as well as historical and biblical reflections. They are titled: listening, delighting, lightening, settling, confronting, accepting, appreciating, befriending, generating, and blessing.

I highly recommend this book.

What unexpected challenges and opportunities are you facing or do you expect to face when you are over 60 years old?

How is aging a good thing spiritually? How is it challenging?

8 thoughts on “If you are more than 60 years old or ever expect to be, you should read this book.”

  1. Another book related to this topic which I have read several times is “The Christian Art of Dying: Learning from Jesus,” by Allen Verhey. The author discusses end of life questions, issues and explores the account of Jesus’ death as a paradigm for dying well.

      1. As a bioethicist now recently retired my first recommendation “Finishing Well to the Glory of God” John Dunlop… that is of course outside of the Book of books.

  2. I actually enjoy reading such books which reflect on dying. Two I have enjoyed are written by doctors, who see death routinely, yet have a lot to say on the topic when they choose to reflect. These are both very good, especially the first, which is actually memoir.

    When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

    Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This