Life After 50

In a marriage, a relationship or in one’s personal life, milestones are worth recognizing and celebrating. They are often times to pause, reflect and take stock – where have I been, where am I today, where am I going? What have I done, what is still mine to do? What do I love about where I am? What is it time to let go of? What would I love to embrace?

If you Google, “what is life like after 50?”, you might get a suggested list like:

  • It’s a time to celebrate the wisdom and resilience you’ve gained from life’s challenges.
  • A time to reflect on your experiences and create new ones.
  • A time to be thankful for the blessings you’ve enjoyed.
  • A time to be mindful of the lessons learned.
  • A time to change the things you don’t like and embrace the things you love.
  • A time to learn something new.
  • A time to make new friends and enjoy old ones.

In that well-known passage in Ecclesiastes 3, we are reminded “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven…

  • a time to break down and a time to build up;
  • a time to weep and a time to laugh;
  • a time to mourn and a time to dance;
  • a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones together;
  • a time to seek and a time to lose;
  • a time to keep and a time to throw away”

As Shalem has reached this 50-year milestone, we have been invited to pause and reflect on these questions. Even with deepest gratitude for our experiences, blessings and lessons learned, we recognize the desire to create new experiences, change the things that no longer serve us, to be ready to learn new ways and make new friends.

Vision 2025: Our Ongoing Hope, approved by the Shalem Board in November 2022, is our guide into our future. Our Vision Statement, Guiding Principles and Focus Areas are helping prepare Shalem for what awaits us and what God is inviting us to live into.

In preparation for that future and in celebration of our past, over the past nine months, Shalem has been celebrating and reflecting on its first 50 years as an organization. We kicked off our year-long celebration with the book launch of Soul Food: Nourishing Essays on Contemplative Living and Leadership, a collection of experiential and academic essays offering current contemplative reflections from new and renowned voices in spiritual leadership. Soul Food is an offering inspired by Vision 2025 and one of its key focus areas of Belonging, which embodies our DEI initiative.

Our annual Society Gathering last fall was preceded by a 50-Hour Prayer Vigil, during which a variety of members of the Shalem community offered reflections, prayers and silence. The Society Gathering was kicked off with the premiere of our 50th Anniversary documentary video. And our Contemplative Voices Award in November featured two respected contemplative voices – Cole Arthur Riley and James Finley.

January found us holding a Zoom Birthday Party for Shalem along with a book launch for Tilden Edwards’ memoir, Life Woven in Sacred Time: Glimmerings from a Long Life. And during March, we held a Shalem Holy Week Fast for Peace.

Our celebratory year continues to offer glimpses into our rich history as well as how we are preparing for the future. We culminate our year of celebrations on June 30th with a Zoom gathering for drumming, songs, reflections and more. We hope you will join us!

What is life like after 50? At Shalem, we are excited to be finding out! With a solid foundation, we are confident God has great plans for our future and we trust that we will listen for that Divine Voice leading us into Our Ongoing Hope. We are counting on you to join us on the journey.

May 05, 2024 by Susan Etherton 1 Comment
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Anita Davidson
Anita Davidson
1 month ago

Thank you, dear Susan, for this lovely reflection on Shalem’s 50th Anniversary! May this be the beginning of another 50 years of contemplative life and leadership filled with more adventures than we can imagine!


Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.