Living With Purpose in a Worn-Out Body is an exploration of the inner life shared by many persons in nursing homes and retirement centers. With compassion and honesty, Buchanan gives voice to mingled feelings of loss, gratitude, resignation, courage, loneliness, and love. Each meditation moves from a particular challenge of the worn-out body to the larger perspective and the faithful response. Well-chosen passages from the Psalms mirror the speaker’s feelings, and exhortations from the New Testament stir hope. It becomes clear that “living with purpose” in old age is an extension of the challenges lived all along one’s years – learning to offer one’s will to God’s, trusting God’s grace to open up seemingly closed situations, and continuing to respond with the joy and fortitude of faith.
Most impressive is Buchanan’s ability to write from the perspective of a frail elderly person. She articulates what many older people will find hard to say, and in doing so offers them the strength and comfort of being understood. But read by family and caregivers, the meditations are piercing. Buchanan lets readers know the difficult feelings of those living an assisted life: the ambivalence about being alive so long, the struggle against self-pity, the loneliness and isolation, the frustrations of limited strength and movement. She also mines the joys of living: laughter among friends, seeing grandchildren grow up, sifting through happy memories. Living With Purpose
is a comfort for those who are living out their last long years and a help for those who love and care for them.