Thursday, February 15, 2007

Growing in wisdom

Here's a passage from The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom by Angeles Arrien:
Many world tales and perennial wisdoms point to eight metaphorical gates of initiation through which we must pass in order to develop fully into wise people, or elders. These gates are archetypal passageways to deepening our experience of life in our later years. They offer powerful tools to help us shift our perspective. They map a new landscape for the second half of life, grounded in multicultural traditions that honor elders. . . .

The lessons offered at each of the eight gates rigorously prepare us for our initiation into elderhood. The Silver Gate challenges us to invite new experiences into our lives. The White Picket Gate asks us to reflect on the roles we have played earlier in life, and learn to assume the new role of elder. The Clay Gate urges us to care for and enjoy our bodies, even as we come to terms with their limitations. At the Black and White Gate we learn to deepen our relationships in more intimate and mature ways. The Rustic Gate encourages us to use our creativity to enhance our lives, contribute to our communities, and leave a lasting legacy. At the Bone Gate, we develop the courage to be authentically ourselves in the world. The Natural Gate calls us to replenish our souls in silence and in nature and to take time for reflection. When we reach the Gold Gate, we actively engage in practices of nonattachment and prepare for our passing from this world.
It always bothers me when people in our culture act as if growing older is something to be denied and that saying "You're not old!" is a compliment. We are supposed to grow old. That is the goal - not something to be warded off and resisted. If we train ourselves to be comfortable with the idea of growing old then we will be open enough to grow in wisdom as well.

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