Book Review - The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister, O.S.B (2008)

mcherwood By mcherwood, 16th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Positive Thinking

Sr. Joan Chittister, a renowned Benedictine nun and prolific author speaks to the burdens and blessings which are encountered by the elderly.

Book Review - The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister, O.S.B (2008)

Joan Chittister's latest offering of her vast wisdom is filled with inspirational thoughts for the elderly as well as for those who have relatives and friends who fit into that category.
Using forty short chapters which can be used as daily meditations or read in two or three sittings, Sister Joan addresses topics relating to aging such as regret, fear, adjustment, freedom, productivity and memories. Each brief chapter ends with the burden as well as the blessing which may occur when faced with the particular issue addressed in that chapter.

For instance, the chapter which addresses memories warns that frequent brooding over days gone by (the burden) is a negative use of memory, whereas thinking positively about our past years (the blessing) which we realize we have navigated successfully, gives us the confidence that we are equipped to make our way safely into the future.

In her Introduction, Sister Joan admits that, being seventy years old at the time of writing this book, she may not have been old enough to recognize what it feels like to face that segment of life. She states that she reserves the right to make revisions to her book when she is ninety years old.

Since I am a few years older than Joan Chittister, I agree with her that she may not be old enough to discern what specific issues the very old are obligated to confront. Admittedly, she is a keen observer of human nature; on the other hand, as a highly educated and revered religious sister, she may never experience the actual poverty, loneliness, anxiety and desperation that the average elderly person is likely to encounter. Still, we are grateful that someone of her caliber takes a close look at this issue and forces us to think of our own frailty in the coming years.

Having lived a relatively long time, I did not come across one new idea from "The Gift of Years" that I hadn't reflected on previously. However, the book was a definite reinforcement to me that I am living the positive life that she promotes here for us to emulate. After seventy, we can and should feel free to go down a new road, to begin a new hobby or a new adventure. We can still have a constructive existence. We can refuse to dwell on past failures. Life after seventy can be just as productive as life before forty. Our faculties can be just as strong and resilient. Most importantly, we now have the time to accomplish what we may have always dreamed about doing. Do it! Sister Joan herself, at seventy, can be the example for us to follow.


The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister (2008)


Adjustment, Anxiety, Blessing, Burden, Daily Meditations, Desperation, Fear, Forty Chapters, Freedom, Inspirational, Joan Chittister, Loneliness, Memories, Poverty, Productivity, Regret, Religious Sister, The Gift Of Years

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author avatar mcherwood
I am a retired teacher/ administrator for the Buffalo School System. I hold a Ph.D. in Educational Administration.
I write book reviews, film reviews plus a large variety of topics.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
17th Jun 2013 (#)

Thank you mcherwood... sounds very inspiring.

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author avatar bydpb
18th Jun 2013 (#)

Thanks, mcherwood, for a brief and well balanced review of Sr. Joan's writing and experience. As an oblate with her Benedictine community in Erie, I truly appreciate her insights, wisdom and humor about all aspects of life.

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