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  • In a recent conversation with another woman of about my age who is both in a newly creative and blossoming stage of life and who, conventionally, is ‘retired,’ we spoke of the most common words currently available describe this time in our lives, this time of renewal and opening, this time when we seek to serve and contribute more than ever!

    The words that surfaced were Elder…Crone…Grandmother…Retire...

    While all of these words may be accurate in fact, they just don’t resonate emotionally or spiritually with where I am, where I see that we are now…and, even more, where we are going.

    Here’s how the online dictionary describes each…

    Elder…aged, elderly, older, mature, getting on, not getting any younger, chief, senior... (This word also has connotations with Native Americans - and how we tend to romanticize them - and with a lay role within some churches.)

    Crone…offensive term, woman over 40, a withered, witchlike old woman

    Grandmother…parent’s mother, ancestor, disrespectful term of address

    Retire…give up work, stop working, retreat (fall back), withdraw, put out to pasture, leave, hit the hay

    Where are the positive images to describe this third stage of life following the maiden and the mother? And inclusive of men as well.

    Over recent years some have tried to bring ‘crone’ into a positive light. But I think perhaps the above definitions is so deep in our psyche – going back hundreds of years in, for example, via European fairytales – that a more progressive definition just hasn't 'taken' in the majority culture. The opening image is of the crone from the 2005 movie, The Brothers Grimm.

    I’m not blue-haired, but I found the following well-intentioned quote sad. “The Wisdom of the Crone is all around us. She is present in every ‘little old blue haired lady,” waiting to be recognized and honored….We have but to notice Her.”

    Waiting? Needing to be noticed by others? Why?

    Some people seem easily able to transcend the stereotypes of the words and of the culture's tendency to marginalize this third stage of life.

    Perhaps we can look deeply into how they do that and copy them! However we do it, let's continue to find new positive, powerful ways to grow together and serve wholeheartedly for a lifetime!
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