by Sonia C. Solomonson
It wasn’t your ordinary 60th birthday party. In fact, it wasn’t a birthday party at all. My invitation read: “With thanks for what is . . . and for what will be. To age is a treasured gift. To celebrate my gift of turning 60, I am gathering special women in my life. . . to celebrate my coming of age into the Wisdom Years. This won’t be a birthday party. It will be a Croning Ceremony, to mark the Crone Years. I want to spend some time with you celebrating the wisdom we are gathering as we age.”
I didn’t want gifts. I wanted their wisdom. So my invitation asked for just one thing: “What I really would love you to bring is something written that I can keep in my memory book—a phrase, a few words, a memory, a story, advice on entering the Wisdom Years, a poem, a prayer or something you can commit to paper about the relationship you and I share. I will treasure these written words more than any gift I could receive.”
Oh, the riches those women brought. I treasure them—all these gifts now filed in a memory book that I look at when I need a shot of what I call “estrogenic energy.”
I called it a Croning Ceremony. Some call it a crowning ceremony. In ancient times, a crone was revered as an elder who embodied wisdom—recognized for her knowledge and spirituality. Somehow, in more recent times, however, crone has come to mean a disregarded old witch or even a cruel hag. Croning Ceremonies are meant to reclaim that original meaning. You get to choose which age seems right for your celebration—50, 60, 70 or beyond. It’s up to you.
Whatever you call this ceremony or party, and whenever you hold it, it’s a celebration of women’s wisdom and all the gifts of aging—because many gifts are embedded in the aging process:
Think of all you have learned thus far. As I review my life, I don’t regret all the difficult, challenging, painful and sad things because these experiences have shaped who I am today. I’ve gained wisdom from each experience.
Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy. (Proverbs 3:13-18)
See yourself going forward into your life with a large basket, gathering blooms of wisdom in all sorts of places, often in surprising places, in fact.
Gratitude is another gift that aging may bring, although we need to be awake and aware to apprehend it. When we approach each day in gratitude for its blessings, it’s amazing how many more gifts and blessings we see—things we likely missed before, when we were so caught up with our to-do lists or sleepwalking through life in our attempts to get it all done.
Authenticity. Who wouldn’t be happy to finally reach that life stage where you’re comfortable in your own skin? When you can drop some of the masks you hid behind earlier?
Limitations. Yes, those can bring gifts: deeper compassion, letting go of expectations (of ourselves and others) and of old ideas and beliefs that no longer work (or maybe never did), acceptance and patience. Sometimes physical limitations help us discover new directions and vocations. Who knows what possibilities are ahead?
A richer faith journey. I’ve had to fasten my seat belt and hang on because I have no idea where God is taking me next and what kind of wild ride it might be! I could never have imagined this journey and the learnings that waited along the way.
Cross-generational relationships. I have grandchildren. I also have friends and a few family members who are older (and wiser) than I am. I love this stage of life where I am more open to seek the gifts of both youth and elders.
These gifts are just a few of the many I’m discovering as I age. And I firmly believe I’ll have more surprises and discoveries ahead. You, too, will make your own discoveries. As one of my birthday cards said, “60. Old enough to have life figured out, young enough to live it.” Go ahead, embrace this thing called aging. Live life to the fullest.
I’ll close with a prayer fitting for any age: “For all that has been, for all that is and for all that will be, we thank you, O God.”
1. In her book The Gift of Years, Joan Chittister speaks of the burdens and the blessings of aging. It’s true. There are things we lose and give up, and there are things we gain as we age. Can you hold both of these as true at the same time—and perhaps even focus more on the blessings?
2. What are some of the gifts you have discovered through the years as you’ve added years and experiences?
3. If you could return to an earlier age of your life, would you want to do so? Why or why not?
Sonia C. Solomonson is a life coach with Way2Grow Coaching and posts daily blogs on www.way2growcoaching.com where you can also sign up for her monthly ezine. She currently serves as editor-at-large for Gather.