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It was time to throw away the paper file folder labeled JOB HUNTING. Those days are over. I’m pretty sure there’s no one who’s interested in my 1965 college transcript. I’ve had almost 10 years since my last paycheck to ponder the question, “Who am I now that I am no longer what I used to do?” Thank you, Joan Chittister, for raising that question in my well-worn copy of “The Gift of Years.”

Fortunately, I’ve been given some new titles lately. A younger friend who battles stage-4 breast cancer that has spread to her brain calls me her spiritual mother. She can depend on me to pray with her and for her, and she appreciates my reminders about the Psalms, both the laments and the songs of praise.

My 61-year-old niece calls me her aging doula. I’d heard of birth doulas and death doulas, but clever Nancy created the name for my new avocation.  I can only hope she finds something instructional in my blunders and quirks. In another decade or so, I will give her Sister Joan’s book—not my copy, but one of her own.

One of my dearest friends is almost as old as I am. I learn from her. During a masked, socially distant family gathering, she chatted and laughed about the usual news and topics. When the conversation turned to plans for a newly engaged granddaughter’s extravagant upcoming wedding, she became quiet as she thought a simpler event might be more sensible. Later that evening when she was alone again, she sent me an email to tell me about the afternoon and how she had grown silent. She wrote, “Will the rest of my life be spent listening and reflecting more than engaging in present-day conversations? Is that a sign of weakness or wisdom? I have decided I am [what] I am supposed to be —a little bit old, a little bit wise, and available for tapping into upon request.” Joyce is not an oblate, but I believe she knows how to listen with the ear of her heart and when to choose to be silent.

Marge Lundeen, OblSB

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