Aging In A Sacred Manner

Aging is tough. There is so much loss. Little by little our bodies betray us. In varying degrees and combinations we lose our teeth, our hair, our hearing, our vision, our memory, our continence, the flexibility of our joints, our very strength. It’s embarrassing, humbling, frustrating. We also lose the ability to enjoy many of activities we loved. And far worse than these physical losses, is the loss of friends and family who die before us.

Clara muses as she struggles with her aches and fragility: “It’s only aging. Aging is never easy. It’s the toughest challenge on top of all the challenges of incarnate existence, and comes at the end when, hopefully, we have accumulated enough strength of spirit to handle it.”

How then do we age in sacred manner? How find transcendence out of such myriad difficulties?

My mother, Katharine Day Barnes, wrote a poem in her old age, from which I derived the title for my novel.

“There are warnings enough—that first cold night in August

When Andromeda swings up in the East and crickets are silent!

The early dusk of September, heavy dew in the garden,

And blurring eyes, and aches, and names forgotten.

Never again, never again the summer of strength and beauty.

Friends waver and vanish—O chill north wind of warning!

Look long, love deep while you may.

Too soon December.”

Perhaps the first step in bringing transcendence to aging is accepting it, and the death that looms, as part of the natural rhythm of life.

Clara explains to the immortal Elirians who seek to understand aging and death, “It’s like the seasons of our Earth—the newness of spring, the fullness of summer, the withering of fall, the death of winter.”



Gratitude and presence are also key to aging in a sacred manner. Gratitude for all that is past—all the gifts, the adventures, the people we have loved, the lessons learned. Gratitude even for the bitter lessons, holding them in gentleness and forgiveness.

Gratitude for the present. With age, let us find at the last the wisdom to savor the gifts of each moment—the opening of a flower, the mutable colors of the sky, the shining eyes of a child, the smile of a beloved, the taste of food, the comfort of a warm bed. Most of all, may we drink in and give back love.

When Lenny and Clara learn that Lenny is dying, Clara asks in grief, “What will we do?” and Lenny answers,  “We will live every single moment we have left together so deeply each one will be an eternity.”

As we age we become like an old rock wall that shifts, settles, and crumbles. Being grateful, being present are like growing flowers into our crumbling spaces.

Look long, love deep.

Earth and Eliria

When I started to write Never Again, I knew that there had to be extraterrestrial beings, but I didn’t know who they would be or why they came to Earth, or what their home planet was like.

They wrote themselves onto my page. I love it when that happens. It is the most fun part of writing.

The planet of Eliria is a place of peace, beauty, harmony. There is no violence. No need to kill to eat, as the Elirians receive all their nourishment from light through their eyes and from the atmosphere of their planet through their fur.

No male or female.

No death. They are immortal, part of their planet. They arise out of it to take their unique shapes when they are called by a purpose, what they call an “ulada.” When their ulada is complete, they sink back into their planet until they are called again. The five Elirians who rescued Clara have been called to a huge ulada—to come to Earth and learn what is creating such discord that it is felt throughout the universe.

They are beings of unconditional love, whose gifts are healing song and the ability to see into the essence of things.Borowitz-Earth-Endangered-by-Fact-Resistant-Humans-690

Here they find violence, duality, grief, fear, pain, death—as well as much they come to admire about humans. As they prepare to leave Earth, Lillilia sings, “The song of Eliria will be forever changed because of what we have known here.”

When I read the morning paper and grieve, I think about the challenge of being incarnate on planet Earth.

Perhaps Earth is a testing ground for humanity. (I know this is not a new idea.)

Perhaps our coming here over the ages is like the test given boys at puberty in some traditional cultures. The boy is sent out into the wilderness alone, to survive or to die. If he survives, he comes back a man.

Built into life on Earth are the need to kill to eat, the need to mate, the inevitability of death. These challenges can lead us into violence, destruction, abuse, despair—as we see all around us. But these same challenges can be transcendent.

What if we truly honor each being that gives its life to feed us? What if we approach all relationships between the sexes with respect and concern for the good of the other? What if we open to death as a doorway to rebirth? What if we truly care for our Earth and all her creatures, and change our ways to heal and renew her?

Eckhart Tolle, in his book A New Earth, speaks of those he calls “frequency holders.” He says of them, “They do everything in a sacred manner.”

Like the boy in the wilderness, we must find the way to survive. If we do not change our ways, and soon, we and much of the life and beauty on Earth will die. If we can meet our challenges in a sacred manner, then perhaps we may return from the wilderness we’ve created, adults.