From the moment I saw this book’s title and read a description of it, I knew it was one I had to read. Now that I have I can, without hesitation, recommend Embracing Your Second Calling: Find Passion and Purpose for the Rest of Your Life by Dale Hanson Bourke to any and every woman in the second half of life.
Bourke begins by identifying the issues aging women face. Among them is the loss of many of the things society values – like looks, power, and ambition. She describes how these are either fading naturally or losing their appeal. She tells her own story and, using the example of Naomi from the Bible, talks about how one can get through this time not only gracefully but in a way that enriches oneself and others. I found the chapters dealing with the past, idols, prayer, and friends especially probing.
Bourke’s writing style is warm, companionable and interesting – sprinkled, as the text is, with lots of anecdotes. Sidebars, in the form of text boxes, supplement the main chapter sections.“Reflect” boxes contain questions for personal reflection, journaling or group discussion (e.g.: What are you doing today that is an investment in the future?” p. 105).
“Act” sections have suggestions for action (e.g.:“Find a friend who wants to try a prayer adventure with you. Try walking and praying out loud. Or meet together and read a classic book on prayer such as The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence,” p. 146).
Quotes are also scattered throughout the text.
Each chapter ends with a personalized prayer that gives the reader another window on how to apply what she has just read.
The book’s end matter has a section of footnotes and a couple of pages of “Recommended Resources” – both books and websites.
The only criticism I have of the book is the way it’s bound. My paperback volume has a plastic film laminated to the paper. The film started to peel away as soon as I began handling it. Resisting the urge to peel more is as hard as not picking at a scab or ripping loose wallpaper. My poor book looks like it needs a face lift of its own.
That little matter aside, I found this an altogether uplifting, encouraging, and affirming read. I am using the “Reflect” sections as journal prompts to help me dig deeper into my own past, current motivations, and future expectations. Bourke has given me lots to think about and this book will be my companion for a while.
Besides personal use, I can see Embracing Your Second Calling being useful as a springboard for group study and discussion. I don’t think the groups would even have to be confined to middle-aged or older women. For the mindset and spiritual outlook Bourke describes in her maturing self are not restricted to women who have reached a certain age, but are available to women of any age open to spiritual renewal and continuing spiritual health and usefulness.