Walking our Faith: Reaching for new horizons
After attending Mom’s memorial service in Florida last week, I spent a few days at a beach condo belonging to friends. Every morning I headed to the shore and went for a walk before it got too hot.
This is the same beach I used to run along when I was a high school student and on the swim team. Now I am 60 years old and prefer to walk, but I still enjoy the feel of the waves lapping my feet.
Instead of a high school swimmer wondering where I will go to college, I am wondering what I should do with the final third of my life.
As I stood at the shoreline contemplating this question, my future felt devoid of purpose for the first time in my life.
Thinking of our lives in stages is nothing new. Since I’ve lived a simple life, I broke mine into three.
The first third was zero to 30. The second was 30 to 60. And I am hopeful that the final third of my life will be from age 60 to 90.
The first 30 years were filled with the traditional activities of growing and going to school and then off to university and starting a career.
It was a time of discovery, everything done for the first time. Lack of maturity was often overlooked and allowances made in the name of learning experience, such as the first time I drank the bane of every teenager, rum and coke.
This was the age of limitless possibilities when we could still be astronauts or doctors or firefighters or presidents. This was the age when I moved to New York with a peacock blue suitcase, a reservation at the Y and a dream to work on Wall Street.
The next 30 years were all about being an adult, growing up not physically but emotionally and psychologically, maturing I suppose is a better word. In this middle time, we had families to care for and a new generation to raise as we pursued our careers.
Suddenly or gradually we discovered our limitations and that we were no longer the center of the universe. In my case after eight years on Wall Street and living in New York, one morning riding the subway to work I realized I no longer wanted the job or the city.
If this period of discovering our limitations is disappointing it can also be a time of grace. We trade our fearless selfishness of youth for rounded edges of humility and compassion which make it easier to draw closer to others.
Standing now at the threshold of my 60th year and looking towards the horizon, I am wondering what to do with myself. And maybe this is more common then I imagine. My empty nest is because my mother has passed away and for years she was the person I cared for most in the world.
But others my age might be facing a similar emptiness of children who have launched their own careers and families or who now find themselves alone through divorce or becoming widowed. Perhaps a career that defined both our identity and our time is no longer either.
Two examples of women who continue to pursue their passions after the age of 70 immediately came to mind. I have interviewed both women in this column in years past. I asked them about pursuing their passions after the age of 60 and how that pursuit may reflect their walk of faith.
Maggie Ducayet founded Summit in Honduras, an organization that brings the resources of Summit County to those in need in Honduras.
“I am working with a Franciscan monk in Honduras supporting his work to make a difference in the lives of young people with drug addiction,” said Ducayet. “He says that how he deals with addiction is by ‘loving the addict.’ His treatment is to offer unconditional love! I love that!”
Amy Evans is a fine arts painter who has held classes at BreckCreate and via zoom, participates in competitions, and exhibits her work at galleries in Breckenridge. Amy responded, “We are never too old to learn something new.”
As I stood on the beach that first morning the terrible void I felt scared me.
But then it was time to write this column and I realized that this is my purpose and how I would happily spend the next 30 years of my life, thinking and writing about how we walk our faith in the world and with the added time that I now have in my life, I will be able to do better thinking and writing on faith. Next week I’ll continue to look at life after 60 by thinking about our spiritual life. Please send me an email if you’d like to share your thoughts on what matters most to you after 60.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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