A great resource to bring with you to your next St. Arbucks’ coffee clutch is “Vesper Time”, by Frank Cunningham (Orbis, 2017, $18.00)). It is an “easy read” of 138 pages which focuses on aging in creative, meaningful, and significant ways. Thanks to our friend Pastor Tim Hartner, Weston, Florida, for recommending this new book of powerful insights! The sub title is “The Spiritual Practice of Growing Older”, which summarizes well the theme and intent of this masterpiece.
“Why the title of ‘Vesper Time’“? was asked early on in our discussion. The author clearly explains that Vespers – or evening prayer – is the 6th of Christianity’s prayerful celebrations of the day’s progression. Vespers is observed at the time of the lighting of the lamps, just before darkness descends. Sounds good to me! By the way, Vespers is widely considered to be the most beautiful of all of the Liturgy of the Hours! Our study group also pounced on a preponderance of quotable phrases that jump out throughout the pages. One of my favorites focuses on the “grace of aging”: “Aging is about living into our memories, about seeking their meaning, about accepting and being kind to them”. Well said, indeed!
The entire book is an affirmation and acknowledgement that aging is a blessing, a gift from God, and not a burden or a negative narrative of doom and despair. Perhaps you and your group can engage each chapter slowly and intentionally, always asking the good old Lutheran question, “What does this mean?” Make sure your coffee cups are full because you are in for a long and luxurious adventure!
The 5 chapters summarize the author’s personal journey through the aging process as he gracefully shares his experiences and reflections. His 5 topics of experiences are Memory, Intimacy, Diminishment, Gratitude, and Acceptance. You and your group may want to study these concepts and add, subtract, or change them depending on your own experiences and journey. The most helpful part of this whole process is for each of us to get a better handle on what 5 or more experiences are molding and driving our aging gracefully and joyfully!
I encourage you to dig into this new resource with gusto. Have fun with it. Be challenged by it. Share it with other coffee or even non-coffee drinkers! My hope and prayer is that it becomes another welcoming resource for you to continue to age gracefully in the Lord!