Midlife Offers Spiritual Opportunities to Women

by Dale Hanson Bourke

As the eldest Baby Boomers turn 60 and the youngest have crossed the threshold of 40, the world suddenly seems obsessed with all things related to aging.  From face lifts to vitamins, everyone wants to look and feel younger, to extend the activities and appearance of life's first half well into the second.  But a new book takes a different approach to aging.  In Second Calling: Finding Passion & Purpose for the Rest of Your Life (Integrity Publishers, January, 2006), author Dale Hanson Bourke contends that midlife is a time for spiritual rebirth and urges women to find new passion and purpose by developing their souls.  Bourke describes how changes in body, mind and spirit can draw a woman closer to God.

Bourke's Second Calling is the first major book to address the spiritual side of a woman's second half of life.  "I believe God wants to take women on ‘second half of life' adventures," Bourke writes in the opening chapter. "Midlife doesn't have to become synonymous with crisis." Bourke shares her own story of midlife transition alongside those of friends and colleagues, while highlighting practical ideas for a rich second half of life.

Many women's voices echo from the book—including General Claudia Kennedy, journalist Peggy Wehmeyer and author/pastor Jill Briscoe. Each resoundingly affirms that midlife can be a time of spiritual rebirth and a chance for God to get one's attention, especially when other demands on a woman's time have diminished.  Bourke also shares the biblical story of Naomi throughout the book's text, using this midlife woman as an example of positive living. These stories are woven into an exploration of midlife attitudes and opportunities, punctuated with essential principles for discovering and pursuing one's second calling:

• Live in the Present: Now is the time to be truly aware of the needs around us. Enjoying the moment can become a hallmark of life's second half.

• Leave the Baggage and the Idols Behind: By leaving the past behind, along with the idols that have distracted them from God, women are prepared to discover and pursue their second callings.

• Learn to Pray: The author shares practical suggestions for developing an authentic prayer life, urging women to make prayer the bedrock of the second half of life.

• Walk with Friends: Friends give form, substance, and richness to second callings. Personal stories describe how friends console, stretch, and spiritually direct a woman's heart and life.

• Pass It On: Bourke writes, "God is calling us to be encouragers and teachers to younger women. It doesn't need to be a major undertaking. You just need an open heart and a willingness to set aside the pride that says you can't do it."

Bourke has launched a Website for women in the second half of life (www.secondcalling.org) and has begun blogging on the topic of midlife and discovering one's calling (secondcalling.org/blog).  She sees the book, Website/blog, and speaking engagements as tools for passing on her life experience, building community, and investing in others.

The author is president of PDI, a marketing and strategy consulting firm specializing in work with nonprofit organizations. She served as editor of Today's Christian Woman, publisher of Religion News Service, and was vice president of International Marketing Group. The author of six books and dozens of magazine articles, she continues to write columns for Religion News Service, primarily on international humanitarian issues. She lives just outside Washington, DC, and is a member of National Presbyterian Church. Married for 28 years to Tom Bourke, they are the parents of two sons.

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