Thursday, May 28, 2015

Workshop Surprise

This past weekend I attended an enneagram workshop held on the grounds of a Catholic retreat center. The workshop was amazing, but I got an unexpected education – and surprise - by observing a few of my fellow participants.

Our class consisted of mostly adult women, aged mid-twenties to nearly 80 years old. Four nuns were in our class and they taught me the most of all. They appeared to be two sets of friends, three well into their 70’s, and one probably in her late 60’s. They were absolutely remarkable.

Aging has been on my mind a lot lately. A LOT. Maybe that’s because of the birthday I just had, maybe it’s because my daughter will be 30 this year. I’ve been studying various sources detailing how an active, healthy brain can remain “functional” well into a person’s 90’s. I only hope aging researchers start to study these nuns!

What were they like? Feisty, fun, brilliant, intuitive, active, resilient, hysterical, curious, willing, passionate, open, adaptive, spiritual, grateful, humble - I’ve never been around such a fun group of women at any age! Growing up in a small Virginia town, I didn’t have much experience with nuns, but I certainly did have a few preconceived notions. I was wrong…at least about these women. I had the pleasure of working with a few of them during class exercises and was delighted, and enlightened, by their quick wit and keen insight. They were so much fun! It was a lovely surprise to witness them in action.

I was also wrong about how someone was doomed to age. Despite my research, I witnessed most of my family experience failing health and decreased mental acuity as they aged. While I’d read about “fully functioning” seniors, these nuns were proof!

I learned much about the enneagram during my workshop, but I learned far more about the long lasting effect of a positive, healthy outlook on life. I learned that the human spirit, intelligence and even our life essence certainly isn’t defined by the body that houses it.