In the Bible, mentors have traditionally passed on wisdom from generation to generation. Between Moses and Joshua, there was such mentoring in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles were mentors. Certainly a big part of what Jesus did was mentoring. The well-known Catholic monk Thomas Merton served as a mentor to numerous novices seeking spiritual direction. And isn't every Sunday sermon mentoring in a group setting?

The Positive Aging Newsletter reports that a team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists looked for the common denominators of why people live longer. They boiled down their findings to a list that includes eating until they are 80 percent full, keeping aging parents and grandparents close, and attending faith-based services four times per month — adding four to 14 years of life expectancy.

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Having a purpose in life is very important, and becoming an elder can give one a definite focused purpose. When we end our weekly A Course in Miracles spiritual study group at St. Paul's United Church of Christ, we say a prayer that really grounds, centers and focuses on that ideal in the first sentence: "I am here only to be truly helpful."

Sage-ing — rather than simply aging — is both a philosophy and a set of psychological and spiritual practices, originally developed by Zalman Schachter Shalomi, that support living with passion, purpose, inner growth and commitment to service as we age. This vision includes teaching and learning, service, and community as three vitally important aspects of the sage-ing journey.

Considering that there are now more Americans age 65 and older than at any other time in U.S. history, wouldn't this be a good season in our lives to pass on the wisdom we have acquired? We can transform ourselves from a senior citizen to becoming an elder with much to offer. The sage-ing philosophy can provide a whole new uplifting outlook during the last season of our lives, causing some to become pastors, mentoring the entire family church.

Sage-ing International began as a networking organization for professionals and expanded its focus, believing that the wisdom and gifts of conscious elders is urgently needed in today's world — a belief I hold as well. I believe that as elders get more involved in community needs, a win-win situation will arise: The elder will feel more fulfilled, living a more meaningful life, and the community will receive the needed assistance, also increasing honor and respect for seniors.

As we age, let us look at life anew. Let us harvest the wisdom of our lives and give back to future generations. Let's have our goal be to achieve our best self as we age and share our uplifted self with others. If you're interested in joining me in a new sage-ing group forming shortly, send an email to the address below.

The Rev. Ellin M. Dize is executive director of nonprofit NRS Inc. and facilitates A Course in Miracles spiritual discussion group at St. Paul's UCC. She can be contacted at NRSsolutions@yahoo.com.

There are now more Americans age 65 and older than at any other time in U.S. history. The number of American seniors is projected to reach 98 million by 2060, and the population of those age 85 or older will reach 14.6 million in 2040, according to the Administration on Aging. Researchers, including a team from National Geographic, scoured the globe, looking for the people who live the longest. The Positive Aging Newsletter reports that a team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers and epidemiologists then looked for the common denominators among all places of why those people live longer.

Here is what they found:

Those who live the longest are active with growing their own gardens and doing their own housework. They have a sense of purpose in life, which is worth seven years of extra life expectancy. They practice their own methods of stress reduction. They eat their smallest meal between 4 and 6 p.m. and don't eat any more the rest of the day. They drink one or two glasses of wine per day with friends and/or with food (Adventists excluded). They attend faith-based services four times per month, adding four to 14 years of life expectancy. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home. (This lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home, too.) They commit to a life partner, which can add up to three years of life expectancy, and invest in their children with time and love. They chose — or were born into — social circles that support healthy behaviors. From his book, "Reverse Engineering Longevity", Dan Buettner says they have a "Plant Slant." They eat beans, including fava, black, and soy,as well as lentils — the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat —mostly pork — is eaten on average only five times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards.

Sage-ing International, or SI, began as a networking organization for professionals and expanded its focus, reaching out to everyone approaching or in the second half of life. SI's mission is to help change society's current belief system from aging to "sage-ing" — in their words, "from simply becoming old to aging consciously." SI believes that the wisdom and gifts of conscious elders is urgently needed in today's world, and so do I.

Sage-ing is both a philosophy and a set of psychological and spiritual practices, originally developed by Zalman Schachter Shalomi, that support living with passion, purpose, inner growth and commitment to service as we age. SI's vision includes teaching and learning, service, and community as three vitally important aspects of the sage-ing journey.

In the religious arena, mentors have traditionally passed on wisdom from generation to generation. Between Moses and Joshua there was such mentoring in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles were mentors. The well-known Catholic monk Thomas Merton served as a mentor to numerous novices seeking spiritual direction. And isn't every Sunday sermon mentoring you in a group?

As we age, let us look at life anew. Let us harvest the wisdom of our lives and give back to future generations. Let's have our goal be to achieve our best self as we age. If you're interested in joining me in a new sage-ing group forming shortly, send an email to the address below.

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