One of the things that inevitably happens as we age is that we get closer and closer to those who came before us. As we move into the years of the people who represented elder wisdom for us, we quite literally draw closer and closer to them spiritually and emotionally. "Every year," says Dave, "I hear and feel the presence of my father, my grandfathers, and my grandmothers more deeply. I really believe that, as I edge closer to the edge of my own life, I am gradually entering into their realm of wisdom. Each year, I'm more and more able to communicate with them, through a deeper connection to something within me."
As far out as this may sound, it's a common experience of elders. Moving into the second half of our lives, we move more closely into the circle of our ancestors. The fullest expression of this is that, in some sense, we develop the ability to communicate with anyone who has ever lived. We develop the ability to talk to anyone who ever lived.
In the heartbreakingly beautiful novel, The Lovely Bones, by Alice Seybold, heaven is a place where those who have died can look down on the living and watch us all the time. We need not take this literally in any sense nor require a change in our deeply held spiritual beliefs to feel the pull of Seybold's metaphor: Everyone who ever loved us, even a little bit, is up in heaven watching over us. The closer we get to our own journey to heaven—whatever that means for us—the more we are able to connect with those dear ones who have been attending to our progress through life from above.
Claiming our place at the fire, then, is in some sense, joining into the circle of heavenly watchers. Our role becomes more and more to be a conduit for their wisdom to those who need it here on Earth.
As we age, most of us, in some way, get more in touch with the spiritual nature of our existence. As our bodies decline, it's only natural that we should be drawn to aspects of life that are less ephemeral, more eternal.
For some people, this turning toward spirituality manifests itself in a return or reconnection to the spiritual practices of their earlier lives. For others, this emerging spirituality leads them to seek other practices in new or more esoteric traditions.
Whatever your theological or spiritual bent, be it atheist to devout theist, you will do well in the second half to find new ways to attune to your spiritual side. This wellspring of emerging spirituality becomes a source of greater power and fulfillment. It becomes an important font of creative expression and connection with friends, family members, and the community at large. It becomes, in short, another way to claim our place at the fire.