Aging with Spirit Poem of the Month

Beyond Death                          Naomi Wingfield

Death, I am not afraid of you
but I don’t like you.
You are big and dark,
and you take my friends.
You take the wrong ones.
You leave old and suffering souls,
and you don’t care.
I don’t like you.

Dying, that’s another thing.
You are gentler, and sometimes sweet.
We can control you
and rejoice as we wonder
and anticipate.

Living, you are the sun.
If I skip along with you
will shadows seem less frightening,
will Death be understood?

Loving, the very best,
goes on and on,
past shadows, past Death.
I can’t control Death
but I can nurture Loving
beyond Death.

Practices for Wakefulness

I had the pleasure of guest editing the current issue of the Second Journey e-publication of Itineraries on the topic of Practices for Wakefulness. My own article Ryan13WritingPlungingInwardforGivingWords, addresses writing as a spiritual practice.

The issue opens with an invitation from Carol Orsborn to grow “fierce with age.” Betsy Crites describes activism as ongoing spiritual practices that foster spiritual transformation. Ron Pevny and Randy Morris present two rituals for honoring new commitments and transformations as part of the passage into elderhood. Bolton Anthony explores similar themes as they are mirrored in literature and film. Finally, the concluding chapter of John Sullivan’s forthcoming book, Integral Living, is excerpted.

Aging in Community News

Village to Village Network (VtV) is a national peer to peer network [mostly USA, some Canadian Villages] to enable communities to establish and effectively manage aging in community organizations initiated and inspired by their members.


are membership-driven, grass-roots organizations;
are run by volunteers and paid staff;
coordinate access to affordable services;
including transportation, inspiring health and wellness programs, home repairs, social and educational activities and trips;
offer vetted- discounted providers of home, social, and health services.

You may download the report on a national survey of 200 Villages, varying in size from under 20 members to hundreds.

Book Review

How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist.

Andrew Newberg & Mark Robert Waldman
New York: Ballantine Books/Random House, 2010.

The longtime collaboration between neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg, Director of Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania, and therapist/writer Mark Andrew Waldman yields this highly readable book on complex questions and supported by complex data.

Newberg and Waldman overview the fast-paced changes in our scientific understanding of the brain and how these affect our concepts of religious experience and spiritual practice.   Anchored in their own research, they synthesize recent breakthroughs regarding how much the brain can grow and change, even into old age. Experiences change the brain, and then the brain changes the likelihood and impact of experiences. In particular, different religious and spiritual practices affect growth in different areas of the brain. The appendix contains 70 pages of endnotes, with full citations to the complex neuroscience literature to allow further investigation of any particular finding.

Three chapters highlight the implications of brain research for practices to age well, to find serenity through meditation, and to learn compassionate communicate.

>> To read the full review:  Ryan14-NewbergWaldman2010

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Ryan-Reflection Mission Dolores

With this reflection photo from last month’s visit to San Francisco, I bid you adieu,