Embracing Elderhood

By Mary Loftus

Cover of Ear to the Ground

Professor of Religion Emeritus Eugene Bianchi is used to mining his own life for writing themes: from his Italian roots, to decades spent as a Jesuit priest, to a vibrant career as a professor, to his latest incarnation as a “creative aging specialist” and blogger.

In his newest collection, Ear to the Ground: Poems from the Long View, Bianchi writes of memories, aging, and spirituality.

“Bianchi’s poems come from an extraordinarily rich spiritual and sensual life,” says Professor of English Ron Schuchard. “The meditative mood is balanced and lightened by the wit, humor, and satire. . . . One is struck by the honesty and integrity of these engaging, moving, and unpretentious poems.”

Bianchi, who left the Jesuit order after twenty years to campaign for a married priesthood, was the first director of Emory’s Emeritus College from 2001 to 2008.

His past books include Passionate Uncertainty: Inside the American Jesuits; two novels, The Bishop of San Francisco: Romance, Intrigue and Religion and The Children’s Crusade: Scandal at the Vatican; and the memoir, Taking a Long Road Home. His writings on the spirituality of aging include: Aging As a Spiritual Journey, On Growing Older, and Elder Wisdom: Crafting Your Own Elderhood.

During elderhood, says Bianchi, “we are less driven to achieve goals set by others with the attendant fear of not reaching them. We no longer need to translate the success of others into fears about our lack of achievement. We can cultivate our truer and deeper personality without too much compromising to please others. Older age can be an opportunity to let go of fears that have curbed our personal enjoyment of everyday life.”

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