On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old

Parker J. Palmer

Palmer’s trademark mix of the contemplative and the prophetic fills the pages of this reflection on the gifts and challenges of aging. “Every hour,” writes Parker, “I’m closer to death than I was the hour before. All of us draw closer all the time, but rarely with the acute awareness that comes when old age or calamity reminds us of where we stand.” Embracing this awareness can move us toward true shalom as we age.

Adventure of Ascent: Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey

Luci Shaw

Shaw teases transcendence from the everyday things that mark a life lived well and long: colonoscopies, memory hiccups, yet another first day of spring, and many meaningful conversations. “I think I am learning to inhabit my own mortality,” she writes. This book invites readers to do the same, helping us marvel at God’s work in the final movements of life.

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Richard Rohr

This book has been both prod and balm to many who have found themselves disoriented by the seismic shifts of midlife. Although Rohr’s theology veers from orthodoxy in places, discerning readers can glean much from his insightful descriptions of spiritual development in life’s second half. Falling Upward helped me understand that some of the desires and ambitions that served me well in the first half of my life often hampered my journey toward Christlikeness thereafter.

The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith

Janet O. Hagbert and Robert A. Guelich

This book shows how the physical and emotional changes we experience during each season of life can provide insight into the ways we mature in our faith. Hagberg and Guelich cast a vision of spiritual maturity marked by willing obedience to God, depth of wisdom, and full embrace of the sorrows, joys, and paradoxes of the life of Christ.

The Velveteen Rabbit

Margery Williams

This is a profound parable about aging and the hope of transformation disguised as a children’s book. A stuffed rabbit’s deepest longing is to become “Real,” and he does so only by being used up in the service of love—losing his life in order to find it. With each rereading, the image of the little stuffed bunny discovering that he can leap and dance with the other rabbits in the forest renews my vision of eternal life with God.

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