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The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  624 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
Not only accepting but celebrating getting old, this inspirational and illuminating work looks at the many facets of the aging process, from purposes and challenges to struggles and surprises.
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by BlueBridge (first published January 1st 2008)
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Oct 05, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
Recommended to Steve by: Speaking of Faith on PBS
Shelves: icpl
I got interested in reading something by Joan Chittister after hearing her interviewed by Speaking of Faith's Krista Tippet. I have listened to a lot of interviews on SOF and Joan Chittister's really resonated with me. Joan Chittister is a Benedictine sister who was voted the most inspirational woman alive in a 2007 survey.

This book was valuable to me for devotional reading since it contains almost 40 short chapters (3-4 pages)on different topics relevant to those of us who are becoming the olde
The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully is by one of my very favorite spiritual writers (and role models in faith and living), Joan D. Chittister. The book consists of essays about the spirituality of living longer, of aging, and the spiritual risks and gifts offered. The book does not need to be read chronologically, but invites the reader to pick and choose what best addresses her needs or interests at that moment. Nor does it seem that this is a book meant to be read once. For me, it will ...more
Ronald Vasicek
Mar 04, 2010 Ronald Vasicek rated it it was ok
She says the same thing over and over.
Jun 28, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book of essays by the good Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. I think I counted 42. My book group started it a year ago, appreciated it. But I kept reading the essays, savoring them. I have been recommending the book to colleagues and friends who have or are soon to retire. I have it on my Kindle and will go back and start the essays again. They absolutely feed my soul and help me make sense about this wonderful stage of life called retirement.
Aug 02, 2014 Courtney rated it it was amazing
Not just a book. A beautiful guide to living a graceful & full life. It will be on my bedside from now on to remind me to appreciate every moment.
First, a disclaimer. I have a "spiritual" bent but am not at all religious and I'm definitely disinterested in the role of God (or god) in life or death. This book was written by a progressive/liberal nun (like me, except for the nun part); but knowing her openness, I decided to read it and hope it wasn't too heavy on religion. That was a good call.

I'd recommended it to my book group who is reading it but hasn't yet met to discuss the entire book. So while I can't speak to how they responded, I
I received this book as a birthday gift from my husband on the occasion of a milestone birthday. The book is a series of about 40 essays, each 4-5 pages, on a range of topics including Possibility, Fulfillment, Learning, Letting Go, Freedom, Forgiveness and Legacy. I read the essays over a period of 2 weeks, in no particular order. While the book is categorized as Christian spirituality, I think it could be helpful for people of a range of religious backgrounds, including no religious ...more
Jun 30, 2015 Keith rated it it was amazing
This is a great devotional style book that deals with 2nd-Half-of-Life spirituality. There is a spiritual purpose in aging. In aging we learn many lessons. As we grow older we can grow bitter or better. Trying to maintain control is a sure way to become bitter. Learning to trust the process and learn from the gift of life is the Way we become better.

"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." ~2 Corinthians 4:16
Sep 11, 2011 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are growing older, this is a good book. If you are not, then you are dead. The book is probably written more for readers in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s… However, I think it would be excellent for adults of all ages. It provides a good understanding of the feelings and adjustments of growing old. Thus, it’s a benefit for old and less old readers. At times, it can be depressing but it is also instructive and motivational.
Feb 25, 2016 Bonnieb rated it it was amazing
This book was, indeed, a gift...a gift of focus, positive thinking, reframing, reflection...on the realities of aging. Joan Chittister is a gifted thinker and writer; she uses this gift in a beautiful collection of inspirational reflections that focus on many aspects of aging, including the potential and joys.

Truly appreciated the thinking, the writing, the reminders.
Jan 26, 2009 Emillam rated it it was amazing
Another profound book by one of my absolute favorite spiritual leaders--Sister Joan. The book is a must read for anyone 60 and older!! It is a true blessing and opens one's eyes to wisdom as an elder!
Nov 22, 2016 Peggy rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
This book is a series of meditative essays on the nature of life after the shift from being an active working adult into becoming an elder. At first the essays seemed soporific. After falling asleep twice while reading I thought I might prefer them one at a time in a small study group setting or in a weekly newsletter (Chittister supplies one via an email subscription). But then I found myself transformed by their substance. Each essay explores a state of being such as "Joy," "Learning," or ...more
Alyssa Botte
Dec 03, 2016 Alyssa Botte rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, non-fiction, work
While the title of this book implies a certain age-range of its readers, I would recommend this work to any person of any age. It is chalk full of beautiful insights and thought-provoking confrontations with ageism, ableism, and pro-individualism. Chittister's prose is simply beautiful and she has a gift for using carefully placed, powerful turns of phrases to re-frame how we all understand growing older and growing more into ourselves. While she sets forth lessons to help elders grow into ...more
Don Heiman
Nov 01, 2016 Don Heiman rated it it was amazing
Joan Chittister wrote "The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully" in 2008. From my perspective, she captures in today's vernacular the wisdom of Confucius mixed with the values of Gandhi. The authoress articulates in 41 essays the joy of aging and the spiritual values associated with universalist philosophies. I wish her book contained more references. Nonetheless, her writings are inspirational. It is by far the best book I ever read on the art and joy of growing old. She has profoundly ...more
Nov 06, 2015 J rated it did not like it
Shelves: ccs-book-club
1.5 stars. LOL - an entirely secular book (written by a UN "spiritual" expert) framed as spiritual devotional reading.

I have been resisting writing book reviews lately and now I have 3 books piled up on my nightstand that need to be reviewed and returned to the library. So, here goes...

This was my least favorite book in the bunch. It was assigned reading for a new bookclub.

Granted I am not the target audience - as I am in my late-30s. However, I have always been fascinated by end of life spirit
Jun 10, 2014 K. rated it really liked it
Chittister offers meditations on various themes affecting everyone's life but with a view towards how we can approach them in as people moving into and through late life. On the ladder of concrete examples and abstract ideas, the writing is quite abstract. There are very few anecdotes, examples, statistics or other specifics. This made it a little difficult to apply the concepts without slowing down to generate my own examples. Nevertheless, the concepts discussed are thought provoking.

The basi
Sep 06, 2016 Elizabeth rated it liked it
A good friend recommended this book several years ago -- probably in 2010 when it was published. I got the book right away and started it. However, at the time, I wasn't really ready for it. I wasn't experienced enough in aging and was busy with work and my teenager in high school. I set the book aside and knew there would be a better time for me and this book.

This spring and summer, I've read several books about growing older, so when I finished them it seemed an appropriate time to dive back i
Barbara P
Mar 19, 2012 Barbara P rated it it was amazing
I may have put this book in before because both John and I had read it on our own. But we decided to read a chapter a day following breakfast and have conversation about it. Chittister is a fantastic writer and writes with an inside understanding of human nature and growing older. We could relate completely with most of the chapters. We particularly resonated with her over all affirmation of the aging process that holds many opportunities for personal growth, service, wisdom. She also writes ...more
Audrey Hafar
Jan 30, 2014 Audrey Hafar rated it it was amazing
this is a beautifully written book about entering new stages of life and how our attitudes affect how we move through these stages. The title gift of years outlines how these years can be a blessing and not a burden. I read this book shortly after my husband died and I was in a very dark place. I was comforted by these ideas and it helped me through some sad times. This is not intended only for last stages of life, but rather realizing that as we age, there are new and interesting ways to look ...more
Nov 20, 2015 Floyd rated it it was ok
The author is a pretty good writer. She ends each chapter with "A burden of these years...." "A blessing of these years...." So I would say that a burden of this book was the vagueness of language leaving me wandering what really is the basic purpose of life for those getting older. A blessing of this book is a focus on different themes and the open/intentional attitude that a person can have knowing there are many meaningful and useful activities to be involved in while in our 70s and 80s. I'm ...more
Mar 18, 2011 Paul rated it liked it
Gift of years is all about the end game. It is divided into many short chapters, each with positive attainments and obstacles. It is very readable and thought provoking – each chapter would make a fine focal point for a discussion group. Examples of topics include: regret, meaning, fear, ageism, joy, success, and faith. The book invigorated me. It reinforced my own belief system.I feel more confident dealing with my challenges. As the author states, “We begin to understand things we never even ...more
Sep 06, 2014 Laurie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
I thought the author made many, many enlightened observations about aging. For myself, the chapter on the role of memories in our lives was particularly helpful. I did feel it was somewhat repetitious and at some points, felt like being beaten over the head with the central premise that old age is what you make it. That simple statement is pretty much the theme of the book. She does give very persuasive reasons for why old age can be a satisfying and productive stage of life. Not very much in ...more
Feb 12, 2010 Eileen rated it really liked it
This is one of the most inspirational books I have read. It is a series of meditations about growing older and retaining the value of all your past experiences to build on the promise of the future. It's a real upper.

In the author's words "It’s what we learned along with way, what we meant to other people along the way, what we became inside – along the way- that is really who we are."

"Retirement – this may, in fact, be the first moment in our lives when we are really free to choose work that b
Jul 28, 2011 Lorraine rated it really liked it
Americans stereotype aging. Other cultures revere the elderly.

We don't stop growing as we age, we start growing in a new way.

Old brains are as intellectually competent as young brains. They may work at a slower pace, but they have more depth, more reflection and more philosophical awareness.

Chittister is a graceful and insightful writer. Words are precious and she writes clearly and directly to the point; no need for fluff.

Aging is a blessings. Once we defeat the fears we have about aging it bec
Kay Carman
Feb 23, 2016 Kay Carman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aging, religion
A series of essays on topics such as regret, solitude, productivity and memories, The Gift of Years offers insight into living richly and fully in "old age," 65 and older, and being fully aware of the purpose of this stage of life. One reviewer wrote that it's "not only for people facing aging or providing support, but for everyone who wants to live a spiritually centered and balanced life." I plan to buy a copy and reread it every year around my birthday time, reinforcing my vision of the kind ...more
Sep 09, 2014 Lane rated it liked it
Chittister knows how to turn a phrase. This collection of essays about the golden years of life is repetitive and lacking in substance, however. (The thought-provoking, relevant quotations from others with which she begins each essay are arguably this work's best attribute.) I recommend it for soothing one's frazzled nerves at the end of a long day. Just open it to any page and start reading. After about five minutes of Chittister's mellifluous prose, one drifts blissfully into the land of Nod. ...more
Kerry Kirking
Dec 08, 2012 Kerry Kirking rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I have aged, I've learned that I'm not very good at it. Sr Chittister is pointing me to paths of acceptance and growth which are a far better investment of time and energy than my previously treasured "kicking and screaming." Not that I'm relinquishing youth and middle age entirely willingly, but my obtuseness is far more reflective now, filled with thought and prayer more than"sturm und drang."
Jun 05, 2014 Jackie rated it it was ok
This is one of the few books I will keep to re-read. The chapters are short with easy to read print. The message is upbeat and practical and not maudlin. The author is one of those American nuns who are currently being investigated by the Vatican. The theme of the book is to make the most of what is left and to view aging as a gift. The past is gone. Look to the future and relish the prospect.
Jan 05, 2009 Hol added it
This book is really about spiritual adulthood and was much less age-specific than I’d anticipated. Coincidentally, Cynthia and I watched the BBC adaptation of All Passion Spent when I was midway through and afterward I kept picturing Wendy Hiller’s wry, sage face as I read about aging well. In fact I have about a dozen pages left but want to savor them rather than rushing along, as I tended to do when I subscribed to Sr. Chittister’s newsletters.
"Jeff" Hall
Apr 27, 2015 "Jeff" Hall rated it really liked it
In this book, Chittister addresses the concerns, surprises, and wisdom of old age. She shows that the years after career struggles and child-rearing offer a chance at being more fully alive than ever. Emphasis is placed on the principle that diminishment is no longer the definition of aging. Fans of Chittister know how beautifully she writes and how often she challenges prevailing opinion. This book is another of her great gifts.
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“We don't change as we get older - we just get to be more of what we've always been.” 10 likes
“We don't change as we get older - we just get to be ore of what we've always been.” 4 likes
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