Serenity is something for which we who aim to be spiritual strive. But our elders teach us to take a broader understanding of what it means to walk the spiritual path. True spirituality requires more of us than we often feel we have to give--a fierceness of spirit. “Because its objectives are not limited, because for the lover of God, every moment is a moment of crisis, spiritual training is incomparably more difficult and searching than military training,” writes philosopher Aldous Huxley.

There is hope, no matter how great our disillusionment, because the present moment is always free and full of possibilities. But to be fierce with life, we must waste no time relinquishing the expectation that we will get things back the way they were. This is no easy task but we must offer ourselves up to become profoundly changed. In the words of author May Sarton: “Pain can make a whole winter bright, like fever, force us to live deep and hard.”

We who are fierce with age did not choose this struggle. There are no guarantees. The risk is great. But the world needs us now more than ever. Inspired by our elders, I have the beginning of an answer for myself. To do whatever it is we have done in the past that worked for us, but do so even more fiercely than we have ever done before—eyes open wider, minds clearer, hearts not just cracked, but broken open.

“We have to believe we have value,” wrote Florida Scott-Maxwell. “We could not have courage otherwise, and our sense of being more than ourselves is our most precious possession.”

I salute our elders and turn resolutely forward. They have no map for us, but they have handed us a torch. May we, our generation of elders, take the torch, feel our pain yet stand firm, strong and fierce together. As Joan Chittister writes: This is the moment for which we were born.