Spirituality can include religious faith and practices, but can also be experienced and understood in non-religious ways. I like this definition because it speaks to two essential processes of the spiritual journey of aging—continuing to find meaning and purpose in living and staying connected and engaged with oneself, others, and the larger world. Carol has a Masters of theology and a doctorate in religion from Vanderbilt University and does spiritual counselling in New York.
Carol believes that the journey to self-realization sometimes requires us to visit the darker side of our personality.
In our conversation, we explore how developing a spiritual perspective can help us on our path to reinvention after 60. This trend reflects a recent movement towards the concept of spirituality, a sense of connection to something “greater” than oneself, which may emphasize the finding of one’s own path to whatever-god-there-is, rather than following a scripted doctrine.  Spirituality, according to most adherents, also forms an essential part of an individual’s holistic health and well-being, a departure from the common Western medical definition of good health.
Trauma is relative to an individual situation and we each have our limit where an experience can be overwhelmingly painful and life-changing.  It may be the loss of a loved one, a near death experience, major surgery or physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Whatever the cause, the experience may result in physical, emotional, mental and spiritual damage that must be corrected for the person to become whole and healthy again.

Now in its second decade, the Center offers programs and resources for aging services professionals and faith communities. This definition also lends itself to some basic questions we can seek to answer with the older adults we serve: Can they articulate what brings them meaning and purpose? This definition also helps us to take spirituality out of the realm of the ambiguous and amorphous into the realm of practical practices and programs. She has a wonderfully upbeat and edgy perspective on the concept of “aging gracefully” and, during our interview, we discuss several alternatives to this term. If you have ever found yourself dwelling on an evolving sense of spirituality in your life and want to understand how to use that perspective in your everyday life, this interview is for you! We joke a lot about the negative aspects of aging…hearing loss, hair growth, wrinkles, etc., but I believe there actually are some wonderful things about aging. And because I believe that all of us who work with older adults need to be attending to our own spiritual journey of aging, it also provides us with some questions for self-reflection. This is the view of Carol Orsborn, who has written 21 books and dedicated her life to helping boomers to find meaning and purpose in their lives.

If they can’t, are there experiences or relationships that we could invite them to that would help them find an answer to that question? And are there ways in the programs that we develop and the services we offer to help elders continue to build new and meaningful connections with others, themselves and the wider world?
And how am I connecting to the moment, to self, to others, to nature and to the significant or sacred?
As we wrestle with these questions for ourselves and with those we serve, we will find all sorts of creative ways to support the spiritual journey of aging.

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