Malcolm Boyd is an Episcopal priest and Poet-in-Residence at the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. He is the author of more than 30 books including the bestseller Are You Running With Me, Jesus? and Simple Grace. At the age of 85, Boyd is still writing and changing. As an Episcopal priest and spiritual director for more than 50 years, he has worked with elders and their families. Around 20 years ago, he was given a chance to share his reflections on aging with the 34 million readers of AARP: The Magazine (then called Modern Maturity). The format took the form of responses to questions from his readers. In the preface, Boyd writes:
"Aging, I found, requires learning. God knows it requires wisdom. It can be an enormous blessing because it serves to sum up a life, lend it character, underscore its motivation. Finally, it prepares the way for leavetaking."
This sturdy and always thought-provoking paperback is divided into sections on Relationships, Memories, Health, Changes, and Wisdom. In the first section, Boyd shares his ideas on the important place of relationships in the last stages of life. He responds to questions about loneliness, being disturbed by diversity, asserting the right to be ourselves, the need we have for friendship, the loss of a loved one, the futility of complaining about everything, the delight of sending and receiving letters, building bridges with the words "thank you," and reading obituaries.
In a section on Memories, Boyd writes: "Life is full of fierce passions, big hurts, great joys, and lots of things beyond any easy understanding." As we age, it is time to release regrets and nightmares about the past, to quit making assumptions about others and the way things are, and to reclaim what's ours with forgiveness and love. Here's a really fine piece of advice for us:
"We are most alive when we're engaged in being a walking testament. It takes our mind off our own worries and bruises, letting us share a wider and brighter vision of life. We live not just for ourselves, but for others, too. This adds dimension and meaning to our life, making it richer and more purposeful."
We were gratified to see Boyd saluting elders who incarnate wonder (being continuously surprised), creativity (there is no end to this delight), risk (trying new things), inner beauty (revealed in enthusiasm), wisdom (the art of not knowing), and a zest for life. Read more about Malcolm Boyd at www.MalcolmBoyd.com.