School for the Second Half of Life

O Rising Sun - Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, artist

The Fifth Cohort of The School for the Second Half of Life
January, 2023, In-Person at Mercy by the Sea

“Wholly unprepared, [we] embark upon the second half of life.  Or are there perhaps colleges for forty-year-olds which prepare them for their coming life and its demands as the ordinary colleges introduce our young people to a knowledge of the world and of life? No, there are none…. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life’s morning–for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” —C.G. Jung, psychiatrist and author


Attend a Free Zoom Information Session! We encourage you to attend one of the sessions below so that you are able to make a fully informed decision to apply:

Click here to register for Wednesday, October 12, 7-8:30 p.m.

This stage of life invites us to a greater sense of wholeness and a new sense of freedom to make choices that are true to ourselves and to a meaning of life that unfolds through the wisdom of years. Our youth-driven culture tends to view aging only as something to be dreaded and denied. The reality is that these years, lived mindfully, offer an opportunity to enter more deeply into and savor what matters most in life. We are invited to a Second Coming of Age.

The second half of life is not defined by a specific age, but may begin when we find ourselves wondering, “Is there more to life?" We’ve enjoyed successes and survived failures, endured loss and had cause for celebration. Yet, little by little, or through a sudden life event, we find we cannot or don’t want to live life in the way we always have. It’s time to look at life with fresh, soft eyes. Paradoxically, this crossroad calls for a willingness to “not know,” to set aside perfectionism, to slow down and listen to the still small voice we’ve been ignoring. And, in time, to ripen and become like Mary Oliver’s rose “in its huge willingness to give something from its small self to the entirety of the world.”

Welcome to the School for the Second Half of Life, in-person at Mercy by the Sea, Madison Connecticut, beginning January 2023

Join with other seekers to explore the spiritual invitations of the Second Half of Life and discern the role of elders at this time in human evolution.

“What I have learned this first semester is that I don’t have to approach the 2nd half of life in fear (as I was) but can proceed with a sense of curiosity, an engaged imagination and a sense of community.” – Graduate

The second half of life is a distinct and creative developmental stage that can lead to a greater sense of wholeness and freedom. Through mythology, story, scripture, poetry, literature, film, art and music, we will explore how aging has been viewed across time, cultures and traditions and the wisdom practices that support and sustain our growth into the fullness of life. We will explore current research in aging, happiness, the brain, the new cosmology and eco-spirituality to inform our re-visioning of the Second Half of Life. And, we will engage our experience, imagination and creativity to explore the big questions.

Participants from all traditions, or no tradition, are welcome. Sessions will include suggested readings, input, small and large group conversation, individual time for reflection and a monthly reflection paper. Our building and conference room are accessible for those with mobility differences. Optional additional programs and activities (priced separately) may be offered throughout the year.

  • The School will meet one Saturday per month for three "semesters." Participants commit to the three semesters when you register.
  • Overnight lodging (for an additional cost) may be available for those who travel a distance or for those who wish additional time for personal reflection and renewal. Contact Guest Services to check availability, price and to make a reservation.
  • The next cohort (our fifth cohort) will enter in-person beginning January, 2023. Information sessions by Zoom will be available fall, 2022. For those who choose to apply, a fully completed application and an interview by Zoom will be required. The number of participants will be limited to 25. We strongly recommend that you attend a Zoom Information Session to ensure you can make a fully informed decision to apply and a full commitment to your participation in this program. Application deadline is November 1, 2022.
  • Dates for class gatherings include the following Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., (lunch included): 1/28/, 2/25, 3/25, 4/22, 5/20, 9/16, 10/14, 11/11, 12/9, 1/20/2024, 2/24, 3/23, 4/20, and 5/18/2024. Summer 2023 break will include June, July and August. In the event that a scheduled class date has inclement weather, or because of changes in COVID-19 safety protocols, we will meet by Zoom.
  • Tuition for the three semesters is $2500. With our special “buddy discount” the fee is $2425 per person when both parties sign up together.
  • A payment plan paying one-third of tuition each semester and limited scholarship monies are available.

Perspectives on the Second Half of Life…

“It is not easy to be sure that being yourself is worth the trouble, but we do know it is our sacred duty.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell, The Measure of My Days

“…maturity beckons…, asking us to be larger, more fluid, more elemental, less cornered, less unilateral…” – David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning

“The second half of life is also the age of the amateur. Amateurs are lovers, drawn to their work and their commitments by love, not duty, sustained by the gift of joy and wonder…our perspective changes, and we are amazed to realize that some things just don’t matter any more.” – Margaret Guenther, Toward Holy Ground: Spiritual Directions for the Second Half of Life

“Yes, the second half of life is a certain kind of weight to carry, but no other way of being makes sense or gives you the deep satisfaction your soul now demands and even enjoys…Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore, but to love what you have - right now. …” – Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

“Aging has propelled the development of the human being from the beginning…Things will decay, but they cannot age. Aging is an active process that requires the force of life.” – William H. Thomas, M.D., What Are Old People For?: How Elders will Save the World

“Don’t accept the modern myths of aging. You are not declining. You are not fading away into uselessness. You are a sage, a river at its deepest and most nourishing.” – William Martin in The Sage’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life

To apply for the school, download and fill out this application form and send to Theresa Borchetta. Download a flyer about the school here.


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