Monthly Digest, May/2017

Hello Fierce Ones,

Conscious aging speaks of embracing the shadow to become whole.  In our perilous times, we are being forced to go deeper to come to terms with all manner of dark nights of the soul. In this issue of the Digest, we turn to saints, mystics and regular folks for inspiration.  May you,  too, be fierce with age.

–Carol Orsborn, Editor-in-Chief



“St. Thomas told his secretary and biographer Reginald that if his days as a writer and teacher were over, then he wanted to die fast.    I don’t feel that way about it. And I don’t feel that my days as a writer are over. I don’t care what they are.

The point for me is that I must stop trying to adjust myself to the fact that night will come and the work will end.  So night comes.  Then what? You sit in the dark. What is wrong with that? Meanwhile, it is time to give to others whatever I have to give and not reflect on it.

I wish I had learned the knack of doing this without question or care. Perhaps I can begin. It is not a matter of adjustment or of peace. It is a matter of truth, and patience, and humility. Stop trying to ‘adjust’.”

–Thomas Merton Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing, edited by Robert Inchausti



“We say to each other that we need some solitude in our lives. What we really are thinking of, however, is a time and a place for ourselves in which we are not bothered by other people, can think our own thoughts, and do our own thing…

But that is not the solitude of St. John the Baptist of St. Anthony or St. Benedict, of Charles de Foucauld or the brothers of Taize. For them solitude is not a private therapeutic place. Rather, it is the place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born…

(In the furnace of solitude) anger and greed begin to show their ugly faces. I give long, hostile speeches to my enemies and dream lustful dreams in which I am wealthy, influential, and very attractive—or poor, ugly, and in need of immediate consolation. Thus I try again to run from the dark abyss of my nothingness and restore my false self in all its vainglory…That is the struggle.  It is the struggle to die to the false self.”

–Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart   



“Is it wise to take internalized (negative) messages from childhood, and believe them, (when) they came from someone who could not establish an intimate emotional bond with you, who projected her own feelings onto you, as she was not in touch with her own emotions, and who was also envious of you?

Why would you (still be) allowing this person to define who you are? Consider the source… Is it really true, for example, that you are not good enough? Who says? You only have to be good enough for you.”

–Karyl McBride, Will I Ever Be Good Enough?  ______________________________________


“Things are not the problem. Things are sometimes the only solution to existential dread, and the five Buddhist remembrances: I am sure to become old; I cannot avoid aging.  I am sure to become ill; I cannot avoid illness. I am sure to die; I cannot avoid death, I must be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me.

I am the owner of my actions. Except, I might add as a nice Christian girl, through mercy—and things.

There are things we need to stay alive, and the more numerous things we acquire to feel better about ourselves…Jung would have loved this ridiculous (store) I was in and all its symbols.  Oh honey, he’d have said, we’re just silly fools. We can laugh at ourselves. We have to. We have to harvest humility…We’ll pull through. You’re going to be okay. Let’s sit down right here on this Flutter Pattern Dream Menagerie Rug, and write a poem together.”

–Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy ____________________________________________


“Marlene used to be a very active person. No more. Now she lives with her daughter and son-in-law. Marlene is as alert as she ever was. However, walking is very difficult for her now. Marlene spends much of her time sitting outside in the sun.

She has discovered the beauty of shadows. There is a stately white birch tree nearby. Marlene watches how, with the passing hours, the sun’s lengthening shadow sculpts that tree. Marlene keeps her pleasure to herself. She knows no one who would appreciate her discovery. Certainly not the always-on-the-go person that Marlene used to be.

Marlene smiles. Different delights for different times of life, she muses to herself.”

–David E. Sanford, Old and Joyous   Old and Joyous is a new organization offering support groups and building blocks for a happy and abundant life for men and women 60 plus.   Heading the programs is 82-year-old marriage counselor and author David E. Sanford.    _______________________________________________


“Once in the early days (studying Zen)  I was perplexed about trees. I asked at the end of a lecture, ‘Roshi, do the elms suffer?’

He answered.

‘What? Could you tell me again? Do they really suffer?’ I couldn’t take it in.

He shot back his reply. It pinged off my forehead and did not penetrate.  I was caught in thinking mind, too busy trying to understand everything.   But my confusion had drive.

I raised my hand a third time.  ‘Roshi, just once more. I mean do trees really suffer.’

He looked straight at me.  ‘Shut up.’   That went in…I rested back into my sitting position and felt my breath go in and out of my nose. The thought about trees that evening stopped grabbing me by the throat.”

–Natalie Goldberg, The Great Failure  ____________________________________________

To access our archives and a free subscription to Fierce with Age:  The Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration and Spirituality, click HERE

For Carol Orsborn’s Words of Age and Awe, click HERE ______________________________________

FIERCE WITH AGE, The Online Digest of Wisdom, Inspiration, and Spirituality is a free digest featuring periodic summaries and excerpts of the best writing about spirituality and aging for Boomers. Editor-in-chief Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., a conscious aging expert with a doctorate in religion and author of 30 books, celebrates the increasing visibility of spiritual content on Boomer, aging and spirituality websites, classic sources as well as newly published books and articles. Her most recent book coauthored with Dr. Robert L. Weber is The Spirituality of Age:  A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older.  The book was recently awarded Gold in  the Nautilus Book Awards, the highest honor in the category of  Aging Consciously Contact Dr. Carol Orsborn at

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