|Photo by Alberto G.|
After I finished the list of 8 books that fit squarely in that category, I was astonished to see only one female author among them.
Where are the women writing about spirituality and aging?
Women's Voices on Caregiving
I do agree with the French feminists that women tend to write more grounded works and tend to write from the body and from personal experience. It follows that spirituality would be grounded in daily tasks of relating to other people in the domestic sphere.
In other words, we find the divine by serving one another through human interaction more than by solitary meditations.
A number of the dementia memoirs I've read have applied theology in them, particularly Debra Shouse's Love in the Land of Dementia (2013).
I have read a number of book on aging by women caregivers. Many of these are more psychological than spiritual in their approach. For example, more than half of the books I've read about dementia are written by women. In addition, I am noting how well-established women authors known for writing on vastly different topics are now writing about caregiving.
One of the most overtly spiritual books about physical caregiving was co-written by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley: Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying. (1997).
Women's Voices and Transcending the Aging Female Body
So if women pay more attention to the body, where are the books about transcending the aging body? Bookstores are flooded with books that offer secrets to looking younger. But there are also a handful of books emerging by women about embracing the aging body and celebrating it. I have yet to read some of the available books on the topic.
I am interested in Look Me in the Eye: Old Women, Aging and Ageism (2001) by Cynthia Rich and Barbara MacDonald. (2001). Also, I'd like to get my hands on Women Growing Older in Anti-Aging Culture (2010) by Laura Hurd Clark.
I have read some poetry by May Sarton that probably fits the same category--transcending the aging body through a spiritual framework. I recommend her collection Coming Into Eighty, published in 1994 when she was 82. She's written other collections as an older adult, but I haven't read them yet. I imagine there are other female poets who have addressed the topic of the aging body from a spiritual framework.
Clearly, I have some homework to do. Feel free to add to my stack. Please share any recommendations you might have for women writing about a spiritual approach to aging.
Women's Voices and Devotional Literature
However, there are some women who write about the spirituality and aging in more philosophical ways. That's where I really need to do some homework. Yes, there are many women who write about spirituality, but who is doing so specifically from the framework of advanced age?
Once again, I'm going to explore the book list at Changing Aging. I am drawing such a blank in this area. And many of the writers I think about off the top of my head are writing as nuns without children and grandchildren. Not to invalidate their viewpoint, but I think many women ground their spiritual insights from their relationships to others. But are grandmothers too busy doing hands-on caregiving to write?
It wakes me ask, "What if Ram Dass had a grandmother?" (to contort Virginia Woolf's query). What would she have to tell those a generation or two below her about spiritual awareness in late life?
Until I find the wise woman's devotional literature, I think I need to ask more mature women about their spiritual stores of knowledge.
Books on Aging
Embracing My Age
Gender Differences in Midlife / Late Life Spirituality