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Gift of Years (The) Hardcover

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 2895079420
  • ISBN-13: 978-2895079422
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,491,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister
The six copies of the book were purcahsed by my wife as a present for each of our six children on the celebration of our 50th wedding annivesary. Our children are all 40+ yrs old!!!
I have not read it yet but have received late night snippets from my wife as she read herself to sleep while reading it for the third time. Seemed to reflect and add to our own Spirituality. We are part of an Ignatian Outreach Team.
One disappointment the American cover is not as cheerful as the English edition but I could not see enough volumes of the English edition on sale at the time of purchase!!!! Purchased from/or through Amazon.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Author has opened up for us a new perspective in the ageing process which helps us to live life to the full building on what has gone before us
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Christian book ,full of good insights into aging and meeting the challenge of retirement. Well researched and an enjoyable read.
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Format: Paperback
Third copy
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x94facf24) out of 5 stars 506 reviews
351 of 361 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94fbd834) out of 5 stars Lessons in How to Live for Any Age! 9 May 2008
By Patrice Fagnant-macarthur - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When "The Gift of Years" by Joan Chittister made its way to my mailbox for me to review, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Was I really the right person to be reviewing this? After all, I am in my thirties, transitioning from youth to middle age. I'm not quite ready for senior citizen status yet. As it turned out, "The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully" is a wonderful lesson in how to live, regardless of our chronological age.

Chittister, a Benedictine sister, is 70 years old. She suggests that she may actually be too young to write this book because life still has lessons left to offer. She "reserves the right to revise this edition when she is ninety." Chittister views how we life at any age to be a choice. We are each given the gift of today. It is up to us what we do with it. She counters the idea that old age need be a time of isolation and loneliness and uselessness. Rather, it can be a time of great connectedness and joy and purpose. It is a time for looking back, not with the pain of regret for opportunities lost, but with understanding of how the life that has been lived has meaning for who we are right now and what our future holds.

Chittister maintains that senior citizens have so much to offer to the world at large. Their wisdom and their stories and their experience are a great gift. They also have the time to get involved. Without the pressures of a 9-to-5 job or raising a family, they can volunteer more, make more of a difference. They have the chance to do all the things that they always wanted to do that there was never time for before. "Age does not forgive us our responsibility to give the world back to God a bit better than it was because we were here."

Of course, there are special challenges that come with the transition to later adulthood and Chittister does acknowledge that fact. It can be difficult to be older in a world that so values youth. It can be hard to reclaim a sense of self with everything that defined that self is now gone. It can be a struggle to cope with physical ailments and disabilities. As Chittister states, however, "there is no such thing as not coping. . . The only issue is whether we will choose to cope well or poorly." We do have a choice. We can adjust our way of thinking and our way of being or we can give up.

Mostly, though, being older brings freedom. "We are free now to choose the way we live in the world, the way we relate to the world around us, the attitudes we take to life, the meaning we get out of it, the gifts we put into it. And all of them can change." "The Gift of Years" is a gift in itself. It provides the opportunity to reflect on what it means to grow older and provides hope for a time of life that holds great promise.
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94fbd810) out of 5 stars The Life That is Waiting for Us 9 Dec. 2008
By Story Circle Book Reviews - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"The thing most wrong about this book," Joan Chittister tells us in this vibrant collection of essays on growing old, "is that I may be too young to write it. I am, after all, only seventy." She is, she tells us, among those whom gerontologists call the "young old," those who are sixty-five to seventy-four and may not yet have attained the ripest wisdom.

We are indeed fortunate that Chittister decided not to postpone the writing of The Gift of Years, for it is full of the grace of decades of thought and meditation. It is written not only for those of us who are among the old, but for everyone: we are all growing older, and all of us may eventually undertake the search for meaning and fulfillment that lies at the deepest heart of the aging process.

The Gift of Years is a full basket of rich gifts: forty-plus short essays on the many dimensions of eldering, "its purpose and its challenges, its struggles and its surprises." Each essay begins with words of wisdom from someone who has considered the meaning of growing old, then tells a brief story or an anecdote, offers a reflection, and invites us to participate in a meditation on the burden and blessing of the years.

In "Time," for instance, Chittister quotes Pablo Picasso: "It takes a long time to become young." There is an anecdote about a potter named Thomas, who at eighty had lived long enough "to release the beginner in himself again and again." There are reflections: time ages things; time deepens things; time ripens things. And then there is the meditation. The burden of years is allowing time to "hang heavy on my hands," Chittister writes; a blessing of years is to "realize what an important and lively time this final period is."

Chittister's essays are rich in variety, nimble in thought, and resonantly prophetic in voice. She writes about regret, relationships, religion; about fulfillment and freedom; about limitations. This is a book to be kept beside a favorite chair and savored slowly, thoughtfully--no gulping here--and to be reread as we move into "the twilight time," the last years in which we must find the strength to trust others, bear weakness well, and surrender to acceptance. These are the years, she says, quoting E.M. Forster, when we must be "willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully is not just for elders. It is for all those who are searching for ways to learn, grow, and make the best of our gifts in deeply troubled times.

by Susan Wittig Albert
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94fbdc0c) out of 5 stars Keep this one under your pillow 10 Oct. 2008
By Patricia A. Peters - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a keeper. All my friends love Joan Chittister's intelligence, wit, courage, and style, so we read her books and pass them around. This one will not leave my bedroom. Because each chapter is a nearly self-contained, succinct, fascinating reflection full of surprising insights and good questions about aging, I tuck it under the pillow to read a bit just before I turn out the light. Each little essay is re-readable, and like Shakespeare's plays, keeps giving new insights with each reading. I go happily to sleep pondering something better than my aching bones, so I save on Tylenol. That's the gift of Sister Joan!
135 of 158 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94fbdc3c) out of 5 stars mind over body 17 Oct. 2008
By Daniel B. Clendenin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, has written over twenty-five books that map the terrain of the Christian life, with special attention paid to issues of feminism, international justice, the monastics, and reform in the Catholic Church. I've especially enjoyed Scarred By Struggle, Transformed By Hope (2003) based upon the Jacob narrative, Listen with the Heart (2003), and Called to Question (2004). In The Gift of Years she writes for a broader audience that is not necessarily Christian or even religious.

Now that she has passed her seventieth birthday, Chittister explores what it means to grow older gracefully. To do this she has written short (3-5 pages each) meditations on forty themes like regret, ageism, adjustment, letting go, sadness, solitude, success, etc. She begins each chapter with a pithy aphorism from a broad range of poets and prophets, both ancient and modern -- Plato and Picasso, Browning and Byron, Emily Dickinson and Jung. After the brief meditation, she summarizes the chapter by observing both the "burden" and the "blessing" of the theme under consideration. On the idea of the future, for example, she writes, "The burden of these years is to assume that the future is already over. A blessing of these years is to give another whole meaning to what it is to be alive, to be ourselves, to be full of life. Our own life."

Which is to say that much of my future of growing older is what I intentionally choose to make it. We all face the inexorable biology of the body and the deterioration of our physical condition. But we also enjoy the possibilities of the "eternity of the spirit" and the frame of mind we choose to follow. One can choose to age passively or actively, says Chittister. That is wisdom worth pondering, especially when you consider that the average retirement age is about sixty-four, which means the average American also has another twenty years to live and to love. Having worked long and hard to make a living, Chittister advises that our older years offer us the chance to make a life.
47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94fc1174) out of 5 stars The gift of ideas 15 July 2008
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm impressed to learn that this book was written by a 70-year-old Benedictine nun, which gives Gift of Years both strengths and limitations.

The book reads like a series of sermonettes. We get the "what" but not the "how." And I think the author assumes her audience shares her values and opportunities.

She seems to have a solid grip on the spiritual dynamics of growing old. But she writes about areas where her lack of experience seems obvious: dealing with health issues (especially the health care system), finding meaningful work after retirement, and making friends when you don't have time or opportunity to develop a shared history.

Not everyone finds meaning in helping others. Some people are better suited to working and donating to charities rather than taking a hands-on role in the charities. Some people want to relax and be door-greeters at Wal-Mart or (as she suggests) teachers' aides at a local school (not an easy job to get). But a lot of people will find those roles meaninngless, degrading and more stressful than the high-powered jobs they're denied.

A good book if you've got strong spiritual values, a solid support system, most of your health and financial sufficiency. If you're 80 years old and still running marathons between visits to the grandchildren, you'd probably love this book.
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