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Sweet Words for Your Third Act: Becoming an Elder, Retirement and Slowing Down

I relish the weekly time, each Friday afternoon, I spend with the words of the goddess Mary Oliver, whose poems fill me astonishment, delight, beauty and love. A friend and I contemplate a poem of hers each week as we honor the Sabbath. It is a ritual that has become so very personally meaningful to me that missing it is no longer an option.

I hope you will enjoy Oliver’s words her as well as the saintly John O’Donahue and wise Cathy Comandy, as we collectively slip on something saging, and find a way to step into our third and final act, with the spaciousness of love.

Enjoy these three poems and a link to more!


Leaving behind my journey of struggling and racing through

the white water of many rivers, I become the river,

creating my own unique way.

Leaving behind my self-imposed role as a tree upon

which others have leaned, I now become the wind,

with the freedom to blow whenever and wherever I choose.

Leaving behind the boxes I’ve created in my life, crammed with

roles, responsibilities, rules and fears,

I become the wild and unpredictable space

within which flowers sprout and grow.

Leaving behind the years of yearning for others

to see me as somebody,

I soften into becoming my future,

with permission from SELF to

continually unfold as I choose, without concern

for how others may see me.

Leaving behind years of telling and teaching,

I become instead a mirror

into which others can peer and

view reflections of themselves to consider.

Leaving behind the urge to provide answers for others,

I become — in the silence of this forest retreat

– the question.

Leaving behind the rigor of my intellect,

I become a single candle in the

darkness, offering myself as a beacon for others

to create their own path.

I become an elder.

~Cathy Carmody~

Cathy Carmody passed in 2017, but before she passed she allowed her poem to be shared as long as she is credited as the author.

For Retirement

Here is where your life has arrived,

After all the years of effort and toil;

Look back with graciousness and thanks

On all your great and quiet achievements

You stand on the shore of new invitation

To open your life to what is left undone

Let your heart enjoy a different rhythm

When drawn to the wonder of other horizons

Have the courage for a new approach to time;

Allow it to slow until you find freedom

To draw alongside the mystery you hold

And befriend your own beauty of soul.

Now is the time to enjoy your heart’s desire,

To live the dreams you’ve waited for,

To awaken the depths beyond your work

And enter into your infinite source

-John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us

For a list of other poems, please go to this link:

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