Eldering as ‘Dismemberment’

Recalling a Time with Thomas Berry

by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim

Article in Kosmos Magazine


Thomas embraces this eldering with grace, humor, and depth.  We work steadily during the day – together deciding where each box would go. Taping them shut and labeling them, then carting them to the post office for mailing. At the end of the day, we return to the sunroom, lay out a meal, and open a bottle of wine.  Thomas leans back to take it all in with a smile, saying, “Oh my!”. We raise our glasses to toast the moment, bringing in our companions – the River, the Palisades, the Great Red Oak. This is the larger “communion of subjects” in which we dwell here.

Thomas speaks:

“This process is a great dismemberment, like a shaman’s initiation into his healing arts. He goes on a journey where he is torn apart. His task is to come back together, to reassemble himself. His skill at doing this over time gives him his shamanic powers. That is what this process is here – a dismemberment of a lifetime, a rite-of-passage to prepare us for the next stage. The pain of loss is real; but the letting go brings grace and renewal. How we manage it is the key. Each step is a moving forward toward wholeness. The healing powers come in –  giving thanks for what has been and invoking fresh creative powers for what is yet to be.”