At the Omega Institute’s conference on Conscious Aging in 1992, I heard Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi give a dynamic presentation of his “From Age-ing to Sage-ing” framework for recovering the vital role of elder for today’s world. His vision was based on the coupling of spiritual development and connection with the harvesting of wisdom from a lifetime of practical experience. After hearing this visionary lecture, I joined the advisory committee of the Spiritual Eldering Institute, the precursor of Sage-ing International, and have been steadily involved in teaching and practicing this work for 26 years.

From the beginning, I felt that the heart of Sage-ing involved developing and nurturing a deep connection with our inner spiritual core, bringing wisdom to bear in a variety of situations, and tapping into the energy that comes from the spirit of service. To me, service is a stance we take toward the many situations we find ourselves in as we go through our ordinary lives.  It’s a “can-do” spirit of helpfulness. I try to be awake to needs of those around me. Sometimes service is a role I volunteer to perform in an organization. As a youngster I learned that doing a volunteer job well was inwardly satisfying and usually brought acknowledgement as well. As a young man I worked several summers as a counselor in a Boy Scout camp, where I learned the satisfaction of teaching, song leading, and being a listening ear for young people. I became a patient teacher and a good listener. I further honed these skills during my career as a university professor and researcher. Now, in my retirement years, I still employ these same skills and have added a fair amount of wisdom to the mix. I have learned to wait for people to ask for wisdom before offering it. On the other hand, I am often recruited to help specifically for the wisdom I bring.

In 1996 my wife Sheila and I offered an Omega workshop on spiritual development in later adulthood. I wrote a song for that workshop called The Journey. I crammed much of the wisdom that I then possessed into this song.

The Journey

Some folks see themselves as just a body and a mind
But the consciousness “I Am” is a key to other doors
Within each “I Am” lies the great source of all being

Light from within, that’s our illumination
To dwell in silent peace, that’s our meditation
To see the passing world with clearness and compassion

And when we clearly see, we are drawn to BE LOVE and to SERVE

To be here now and not just in our minds
Means seeing what we see, free of judgments please
To know what others need, we must clearly see

Light from within, that’s our illumination
To dwell in silent peace, that’s our meditation
To see the passing world with clearness and compassion

And when we clearly see, we are drawn to BE LOVE and to SERVE

Part of my service to Sage-ing International is in the form of songs. Watching listeners react to my songs led me to realize that most folks remember my song lyrics better than they do my writings or speeches. Maybe we need a “Sage-ing Songbook.”

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