School for the Second Half of Life

O Rising Sun - Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, artist 


“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


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For information about the School for the Second Half of Life at Mercy by the Sea, contact Program Director, Joan Linley.

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."

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