The first speaker was Dr. Drew Leder, a professor of Western and Eastern Philosophy at Loyola College in Maryland. His latest, Sparks of the Divine: Finding Inspiration in Our Everyday World (Sorin/Ave Maria Press, 2004) explores the spiritual lessons hidden within the things of the natural and human-constructed world. Dr. Leder was stricken with back pain shortly before the conference, and he shares that experience with the audience as he discusses Aging and Spirituality, Challenges and Opportunities.
Dr. Leder spoke about our current models of “successful aging,” and a spiritually-informed alternative view drawn from wisdom traditions the world over. These traditions teach that the aging process can present unique graces and opportunities meant to bring the soul’s journey to fulfillment. Dr. Leder discussed four different archetypes of the spiritual elder, and their implications for our later-life communities.