A Season of Mystery by Paula Huston [UPDATED]

A Season of Mystery: 10 Spiritual Practices for Embracing a Happier Second Half of LifeA Season of Mystery: 10 Spiritual Practices for Embracing a Happier Second Half of Life by Paula Huston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Transcending the endless cycle of want-satisfaction also gets us ready for death and what follows. My friend Betty, age eighty-five, sums it up like this: “Getting old is about preparing for the next life. But nobody these days is thinking about that anymore.” …

So how shall we face old age and dying? We can set aside the comforting myths that tell us we can indefinitely postpone what’s coming next. We can cease the frantic efforts to achieve all our unfulfilled goals before we die. Then we can move into this most challenging phase of life with both eyes open, remembering that our real purpose here on earth is to be “servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries” (1 Corinthians 4:1).

A Season of Mystery asserts that this second half of life brings on the “best of times and the worst of times,” as my eighty-five-year-old friend Brother Emmanuel ruefully puts it. The losses are painfully real. But so are the opportunities, if only we can allow ourselves to let go of the myths. When we do, we open the door to genuine adventure, including some of the richest spiritual experiences we may ever have.

Being about 5 years behind Huston in age, I have just gotten to the point where the last year has brought some of the reminders for my husband and me in a “realization of change” … or, in other words, we’re getting older and on the doorstep of facing physical (and probably mental) changes that come with being old.

This book resonates on a lot of levels although, thankfully, the realizations I have had which mirror Huston’s have come at a lesser personal price … in most instances anyway.

Each of the chapters considers a spiritual discipline that is especially suited to this time of life and which we may have been too busy to even consider before. Disciplines like “Listening,” “Accepting,” and “Befriending” may seem broad but they are directed toward helping readers be prepared for some of the classic obstacles associated with aging. In each, Huston gives her personal experiences and those of her much older friends. This gives a nice book-end look at where we may be now versus where we may wind up given perseverance.

This is not a difficult book to read, although you may find your thoughts turning more to last things after you have read it. But that’s not a bad thing either, because if we don’t have our eye on where we are going then we’ll be unprepared when we get there. I read it in one evening. This also says something about how well accessible Huston’s writing is.

One thing makes me laugh every time I turn the book over though. This is a book about aging and acceptance and Huston’s photo on the back is clearly from a younger age or someone who is trying to look younger than they are (as I come across every single day in Dallas). It jars me every time I see it. Knowing, as I do, that publishers often go their own road instead of doing what the author wants, I don’t know who made that decision. It is too bad, however, that they didn’t use this photo of Huston on either the front or back cover. This is a small point but small points do matter.

NOTE: I wrote this for the Patheos Book Club. Publishers pay for the Patheos Book Club to feature their books … and I received a review copy free. However, my opinions are my own and I love or hate a book on its own merits.

UPDATE
Well, well, well … I was wrong about the outdated photo versus the newer photo. Ms. Huston said that the current photo is the one on the book and that she’d been told cutting her hair made her look younger. So we see she was told the truth! My apologies for my assumptions.

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