For too long, lakeside resident Maurene Bishop chose to ignore the fact that she was aging. She preferred to dismiss everything, from new wrinkles sprouting up, graying hairs and certain body parts not working the way they used to. Until now.
With her 70th birthday quickly approaching, Bishop, a Science of Mind practitioner, figured the time was ripe to embrace her “elderhood” – to break down the blockages she had erected to the natural aging process.
The way she has chosen to creatively face her oncoming 70s is by teaching a seven-week class on Creative Aging, which is as much a benefit for her as for her students.
“Each class is essentially a workshop,” says Bishop. “I pose questions, we discuss various aspects of personal growth and aging, and break into groups. The classes are based on material I’ve extracted from the book, ‘A Time To Live,’ by Robert Raines.”
In creating her class series, Bishop also refers to the book “Aging as a Spiritual Practice,” by the late Zen priest Lewis Richmond.
“I wanted to design a class for those closer to my age, who have similar issues to mine such as loss. When we get old, we lose things; people die, pets die, friends fall away. How do we find the good within the ashes, this so-called Valley of Death?”
That answer came to her from author and minister, Mary Manin Morrissey, who said in reference to the 23rd Psalm and the Valley of Death, “You walk through it, you don’t pitch a tent”.
Bishop came up with the title, Waking Up, for her first Creative Aging class, on February 1.
“In that class I asked my students: What in your life woke you up? Was it a divorce, loss of a job, a physical injury? Some people need a kind of ‘two-by-four’ to wake them up; something to break them out of their rut.”
Bishop admits that the “two-by-four” that woke her up occurred when she was 42 and working as a corporate lawyer.
“I was on a spiritual path, living in Portland, working in law and trying to understand the concept of God, when I went on my first trip to India with a group from my church.”
She returned two years later to work with Mother Theresa in Calcutta. After one month she returned home a renewed woman.
She says, “That profound experience of meeting Mother Theresa and working with the sick and dying made me realize I wanted to be of service to others.”
Bishop and her partner, Robert Brown, first visited lakeside in July 2017 to attend a Center for Spiritual Living conference at the Monte Carlo Hotel in Chapala. During that visit, Bishop saw how the Mexican people had a heart-felt sense of the divine, inspiring her to move to Lakeside.
On that visit, Bishop was offered a job teaching English at the Foreign Language Academy in Chapala, and the school offered to sponsor her work visa. The couple moved to Ajijic last August, at which time she began teaching, also becoming involved with Lake Chapala Center for Spiritual Living.
“I received my Science of Mind practitioner certificate in 2004, from the Religious Science Church of Honolulu, where I was living at the time. Four years later, when I moved to San Diego, I became affiliated with One Heart One Mind Center for Spiritual Living in San Diego.
“Once I decided to accept the teaching position in Chapala, I gave my leave of absence as a One Heart One Mind Board member. I’m grateful for the opportunity to relocate to lakeside, not only to teach English, but also to teach Science of Mind philosophy.”
Bishop will continue to teach classes, and as an active participant with Lake Chapala Center for Spiritual Living, she works closely with its minister, Tim Schubert.
She says, “My next Creative Aging class, on March 4, is titled, Re-imagining Work. As elders, we may feel a calling to work or volunteer, so in this class we’ll be looking at how we can give of ourselves in this ripening time of our lives.”
She adds: “I would like to teach a class on the topic of ‘change.’ How can we embrace change and get to a point of acknowledging everything as divine order? Can we react to changing circumstances with ease and grace, and without judgment?
“Religious Science teaches us about the beauty of the body and the sacredness of life. To know this truth is to be one with love. It all comes down to love. Therefore, let’s love our bodies – wrinkles and all – no matter what our age.”
Creative Aging classes run through March 22 at Lake Chapala Center for Spiritual Living, Nicolas Bravo 17, Ajijic on Fridays, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Classes are free, but donations are always welcome. For more information, see cslchapala.com.