LOS ANGELES, CA (July 29, 2015) — In a society that defines us by what we do and how productive we are, defining meaning and purpose in older age is more challenging—but definitely possible, said Covenant minister Nancy Gordon, who is organizing the Sixth International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality in October.
“Spirituality is concerned with how persons experience meaning and purpose in life,” says Gordon, who has served as the director for the California Lutheran Home for Spirituality and Aging since 2009. Older adults often must find that meaning with fewer connections and in a society that values people based on what they are able to do.
That discovery requires a special kind of journey—a pilgrimage. “We will all take this journey as we age, but some will be more intentional in seeing and recognizing this aging process as essentially spiritual,” Gordon says.
She adds, “Pilgrims experience moments of joy and inspiration and holiness; they also experience fatigue, getting lost, and difficulty navigating the terrain of the journey. The journey holds promise, not just for ourselves, but for those whose lives are connected to ours.”
Pilgrimage is paradoxical. “The difficulties of it can lead us into the greatest joys,” Gordon says.
The conference previously has been held in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Scotland. (The title of the conference uses the spelling “Ageing” rather than “Aging” to reflect international usage.)
The event will be held October 4-7 in downtown Los Angeles at the California Endowment Center for Healthy Communities.
The conference brings together participants from many disciplines, including theologians, representatives of different faith communities, and providers of services to the aging. Lay people who are interested in working with older adult ministry also are encouraged to attend, said Gordon.