Elder Journey: 7 Stages

“This seven part adventure in second half of life spirituality was created to assist older men of the Man Kind Project to define and launch their own personal elder journey. The Elder Court encourages each MKPI region to develop its own version of training for its elders. There is a curriculum called the Elderhood Reflection Series that is available for the asking that walks a group of men through the seven stages of the Journey. Any declared elder can apply to step onto the path of becoming an Elder Journey trainee or trainer. Men who have had experience leading groups, teaching and/ or facilitating meetings will find this training opportunity one way of structuring elder gatherings in their area.”

1: “The Awakening” — Facing the “Inner Elder”

At some point, there is an awakening to the call to become an Elder. The call may be from deep within or from outside (an invitation). It can be an invitation heard in the soul – a message from the universe that a man is awake to hear (the Universe sends messages in numerous ways). He may hear it when the wind keeps blowing out his candle of efforting. It will be a call or request to move on and/or change his path — often felt as a magnetic or gravitational pull. He will know it is an invitation to function without doing, to be without explicit, projected power. He will know something has happened. This has his attention.

2: “The Choice” — Moving into Golden Elderhood

Eventually, a man senses that he is ready to acknowledge that he is moving out of the “hunter/warrior” phase of his life. He has survived and, perhaps, even prospered in a competitive, difficult world; he may have fathered children and guided them through the most difficult years of their growth; he may have faced the darkness of mid-life. He is beginning to face the truth that he is closer to his death than to his birth. And if he has chosen to continue to grow and develop, he is also ready to acknowledge what he is beginning to notice about himself and to realize the power of choosing consciously how he is to live the rest of his life. At such a time, a man may need to be assured that what he sees and feels is “normal”.

3: “The Struggle” — Facing the Shadows of Old Age.

Our culture defines old age as a time of decline and disengagement. Choosing otherwise will sometimes feel like “swimming against a current.” Moreover, like all seasons of life, the autumn season is a time of loss. The man on his Elder Journey will thus need to understand, endure, process and move through the many forms of loss that occur at this stage of life. It is also often a time of forgiveness of others and ourselves as we begin to understand that all of life’s experiences have contributed to our growth and wisdom. And, it can be a time of growth. Some say that the opportunities for growth and development at this stage are as great as they are in the first years of life. But with the opportunities often comes struggle, as we face and deal with our shadows.

4: “Resolution & Development” — The Tools and Skills of Elderhood.

Participating in gatherings and activities of “The Elders,” storytelling, ceremony, the passing of family history, gifts of wisdom, and blessing to the next generation, are key parts of Elder activities in this time of life. Staying connected to the NWTA and the MKP Community and his I group will help greatly. We create community when we come together to make sense of what is happening in our lives and by sharing our experiences, stories and wisdom. This is a time of remarkable growth, unfolding, emergence, and dynamism; a time of deepening wisdom and great influence. In this stage, the man who would be an Elder is learning and uncovering things about himself of which he never even dreamed.

5: “Acceptance and Being” — The Adventure of Elderhood.

This is the Turning point — the Break Through at which a man realizes he is an Elder. It is a time to enjoy the vibrancy of life, to stop worrying, and come to each day with joy at the gift of another day. Renewing and sharing our spirits and truth is the path to fulfillment. So the Elder at this stage should be given an opportunity to do his sharing in a more public way, with ceremony and praise. It is a time of coming out and acknowledgement of the “Community Elder.”

6: “In Service” — Empowered Eldership.

The outcome for many Elders is a conscious choice to serve; however that might look. With an Elder Mission of service, a man can live out his life with a sense of purpose and meaning. As he grows in humility and wisdom, the grace and gift of being a “Master” is achieved. A true Master is one who realizes that he is perpetually the “student.” Moreover, “mastery” does not mean that one doesn’t have to deal with “shadows” anymore. To the contrary; the shadows become more refined and subtle the more “mastery” one embraces. So the journey is without end.

7: “The Final Stage of This Life” — Passing On and Passing it On

Facing a failing body and imminent death, the Elder is necessarily stepping into another new phase of his life at this stage – another “beginning.” Beginnings are always beyond our current awareness. Something in him says that this may really be “it”. On his final journey in life as we know it, it is good for an Elder to look at what was once important, contemplate how it got him to where he is and who he is now, and then look at what part it plays in his life today. This stage is a time to pay attention to beauty, mystery, and awe.