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#1939 - Monday, October 4, 2004 - Editor: Jerry  


You ask how many friends I have? Water and stone, bamboo and pine.
The moon rising over the eastern hill is a joyful comrade.

Besides these five companions, what other pleasure should I ask?

~ Yon Sun-do (1587-1671), Korean Poet, Sijo

Translation by Larry Gross






"LeisureWorld for Spiritual Types"

ElderSpirit Community is a participatory membership organization for older adults that provides opportunities for growth through later life spiritual programs and through the formation of communities and residential centers.

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Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing that attempts to combine autonomy of private dwellings with neighborhood living, and generally has these qualities:


Opportunities Still Open to Buy or Rent

Get in line if you want to be a Pioneer Resident Member!

Following is a list of opportunities for people who are 55+ and want to get in on the ground floor with the ElderSpirit Community.

For purchase: Three one-bedroom homes at $90,200.

For rent from ElderSpirit (income restricted): Two one bedroom apartments at $300 per month.

For rent from Owners (arrangements made directly with owners): Two two-bedroom homes


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Ex-nuns start community for spiritual exploration


Associated Press

When she was a nun, Dene Peterson had expected to grow old in the convent, in the care of her other Roman Catholic sisters.

But she left her vocation and learned that retirement would be different on the outside. Peterson's contemporaries seemed to spend their final years contemplating nothing more than shopping or golf.

'I saw `Leisurevilles' everywhere,'' Peterson said. ``You could be rich and have leisure and entertain yourself -- if that's going to mean anything to you -- or you could just plod along and then eventually someone will put you in a nursing home.''

Peterson would have none of this. Instead, she reconnected with other former nuns who had left their order, as she did, over disagreements with church leaders. Together, they started planning a retirement community dedicated to communal living and a serious exploration of the human spirit, which they regarded as the best parts of convent life.

''People should be able to have more choices than those anonymous rest homes you see all over the place,'' Peterson said. They called it ''ElderSpirit Community.'' And this time, the former nuns were determined to run the place their way.

The 29-unit retirement community will sit at the foot of a wooded hill on the outskirts of the Appalachian mountain town of Abingdon, Va. When completed next year, ElderSpirit will be open to men and women of all religions. There will be rental homes available for people with low incomes.

Even before the foundation has been laid, all but a few of the 29 homes have been reserved, an unexpected response that has Peterson considering building another ElderSpirit as soon as the first is completed.

Residents will be required to spend four hours a week helping neighbors. And they'll share a common house where Peterson hopes for some heavy discussions.

Most of the former nuns who joined Peterson remain practicing Roman Catholics, but their new community will welcome those of all faiths. The years out of the convent gave each a greater respect for different religions, said ex-nun Catherine Rumschlag, and including other viewpoints can only make discussion more interesting.

''We have a really good group,'' said Rumschlag, 77, who has met many of the future tenants. ``They are people who want to grow spiritually, who want to help their neighbors.''

More information is at


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A Conceptual Model of Late-Life Spirituality

By Anne Glass

There is a lot of talk about the importance of spirituality in late life, but there is no clear model that defines it. As the physical plans for the ElderSpirit Community (ESC) development moved forward, a "Strategic Planning Task Force" was formed, specifically to serve as the "spiritual architects." Members Monica Appleby, Anne Glass, Anne Liebig, and Jean-Marie Luce comprised the team and began meeting in summer 2001.

In an effort to envision what the ESC might look like in five years, the team first found it necessary to articulate ESC's vision of late-life spirituality. Building on Drew Leder's ideas, drawing from our experience, and reviewing other relevant literature, the task force developed the conceptual model called Late-Life Spirituality in the ElderSpirit Community. The task force identified six dimensions in this holistic model: inner work, caring for oneself, mutual support, service to the larger community, respect for the earth, and the creative life. Aspects and suggestions of how each dimension could be exemplified were identified. The model was developed by the task force, given shape by Anne Glass, revised after input from the Potential Residents Group, and then approved by the FOCIS Futures Board.

The model was presented at the 3rd annual ESC meeting (May 2002), and time was dedicated to allow participants to respond. The model was well received and some expressed "it has increased my understanding of spirituality." People seem to like the model's layout and multi-dimensionality. They felt that all six dimensions fit and were important. Some noted that most individuals are strong in and most attracted to one or two dimensions, but that this model would encourage members to develop their strengths in the other dimensions as well. One participant said, "A place like ESC is a blueprint for living it." The task force also sees the model as a tool toward replication.



I pick my way through weeds and thorns entangling empty land.
Silhouetted in the hazy twilight, a tall, stone chimney.
Standing alone, I still wonder -- Do you remember me?


Neca Stoller

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