I don’t think we have to go as far as they did, but we can get a clue to a greater quality of life in our sunset years.
A historian discovered how mystics lived two to three times longer and more blissful lives than the average life expectancy of their day.
Hiking is a good basis for both higher spirituality as well as healthier longevity.
I’m not the only hiker who claims their 70s through 90s are the happiest time of their lives.
On my hike today, without my prompting, a hiker I routinely see on the trail said, “This is the best time of my entire life!”
Dennis is just 75. I’m in my 89th year and have been saying the same for over a dozen years.
The Mystic Way
Evelyn Underhill, the Anglican historian, in her classic study, wrote that a major discovery she made in studying the diaries of Christian, Jewish and Muslim mystics is that most lived, on average, two to three times longer than the average person of their times.
From St. Teresa who died at 67 to St Catherine of Genoa at 63, Hildegarde of Bingen at 81, Mechthilde of Magdeburg at 87, her list includes Philo the Jew of Alexander at 60, Macarius of Egypt living until 91, the Muslims Rabia Adaviye at 84 who was called the Muslim Teresa, Sadi at 107, Jami at 78, as well as Imitation of Christ’s Thomas a Kempis at 91.
Their lives spanned periods from 20 BCE to 1582 CE when average life expectancies ranged from 25 to 45 years.
Some history number twiddlers argue about these life expectancies, mainly because they qualify them with “ifs” — if you eliminate those who fought in wars, or those who died of the plague, or died of starvation and such — then life expectancies would be longer. Well of course! True. True.
But we’re talking roll-of-the-dice numbers that insurance companies bet their odds on — average life expectancies from day of birth — period.
Where I Find Most Spirituality
I have found it almost impossible to worry when I am hiking.
And as my trail acquaintance, Dennis, said this morning, “This is my church — the mountains and the trees.”
So true for me as well, though I do have spiritual practices at home as well.
I’m fortunate to belong to a family who’ve found a spiritual program that works wonders — provided you give the suggested discipline an honest effort.
We all begin each day with a period of quiet meditation, prayer and a short spiritual reading. And this too is a very big help in keeping a positive attitude during the day. I’d hate to imagine what I’d be like if I didn’t start off my day like this!
Add hiking to your day. See if it doesn’t add a bit of happiness. Maybe even bring you happiest time of your life.
It’s worth trying. Why not?