SPIRITUAL WELLBEING AMONG ELDERS

Jurgen Ahlers

 

Spiritual wellbeing is
the affirmation of life
in a relationship with God, self, community and environment,
that nurtures and celebrates wholeness.*

 

Spiritual Wellbeing Is the Affirmation of Life:

The Spiritual is not one dimension among many in life; rather it permeates and gives meaning to all of life. The term Spiritual Wellness therefore indicates wholeness, “holiness” in contrast to fragmentation and isolation. "Spiritual" connotes our dependent relationship with the source of life: commonly known as God, the Creator.

What, then is Spiritual Wellbeing?  We cannot regard wellbeing and wellness solely with physical, psychological, or social good health. Rather, it is a distinct affirmation of life!  It is saying "Yes!" to life, even in the context of limiting circumstances. This is no mere optimism, which denies some of life's realities. Rather, it is the acknowledgement of life’s destiny.  In the light of that destiny it is the love of one's own life and of the lives of others, together with concern and care for one's community, society, and the whole of creation, which defines the dynamic of Spiritual Wellness. A person's affirmation of life is generally rooted in, but not limited to, membership and participation in a community of faith. In such a community one grows to accept the past, be aware of and alive in the present, and live in hope of life’s fulfillment.

 

. . . in a relationship with God, Self,
Community, and Environment

Affirmation of life occurs within the context of one's relationship with God, one’s self, community, and environment.  God is seen as "Supreme Being," "Creator of life,” the Source and Power that wills wellness and wellbeing. All people are called upon to respond to God in trust, love and obedience. Realizing we are God's children, we grow toward wholeness as individuals, and are led to affirm our kinship with others in the community of faith as well as the entire human family. Under God and as members of the community of faith, we are responsible for stewarding the resources of the environment to the wellness of all life systems.

 

. . . that nurtures and celebrates Wholeness

Human wholeness may never be fully attained.  Throughout life it is a promise, a possibility in progress of becoming. As in all of the major religious traditions, e.g., in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim traditions, life derives its significance through its defining relationship with God. This relationship awakens and nourishes the progress of growth toward wholeness, crowns moments of life with meaning, and extols the spiritual fulfillment and unity of all persons everywhere, for all time.

*This definition, and attached elaboration, became the "foundational, working document" for the 1970s “Intra-decade” White House Conference on Aging.  The intent then, and now, was that each religious body work with and adapt the statement to fit its own traditions, theology, language, and special situations, and, that this would continue to serve as an overarching frame of reference for future activities assuring spiritual wellness of all human life, particularly the aging of our society.