SECOND CALLING: Finding Passion & Purpose for the Rest of Your Life
Dale Hanson Bourke
This is a book for mature women (these days and in this context meaning baby-boomers) facing the “second half of life.” Dale Hanson Bourke, now in her early 50s, has a different take on life than she did as a young I-can-do-it-all wife, mother and entrepreneur. She was the type who set annual five-year and 10-year goals, building toward the next achievement. She even wrote her first book about it, titled YOU CAN MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE. But now? In recent years she’s felt drawn toward what she refers to as a “second calling,” one that “doesn’t necessarily build your résumé, but it builds your soul.” And here she welcomes readers to join her on this transformative journey.
The book is framed by the biblical story of Naomi (and secondarily Ruth). “Before the Book of Ruth begins, Naomi is enjoying a wonderful life… She loves God and her family, and all seems right in the world.” But “then the bottom falls out.” And later, “through divine providence and Naomi’s obedience, the Book of Ruth ends” with Naomi “feeling fulfilled” and “playing a pivotal role” in a larger story.
But Naomi and Ruth provide the framework for a contemporary challenge: “If all the Christian women aged forty and older got truly serious about seeking God and letting him use us in amazing ways, we could completely change our world.” With an endearing vulnerability, Dale walks you through her own menopausal crisis and awakening, realizing that what really energized her involved international relief and justice issues, including AIDS awareness and orphan assistance. But such work, which started with high-profile marketing advice and overseas travel, eventually and humbly included night after night of personally labeling and mailing out packages of “AIDS orphan bracelets” --- not because she had to do it herself but because she wanted to.
This is more than her own story, however. She also draws in vignettes of other empty-nest moms and career women who’ve found a new stride. And parts of the middle chapters are quite specific in their how-to pointers for finding new direction --- identifying what one needs to let go of and leave behind before one can step out in confidence and faith.
In one particularly interesting chapter, titled “Giving up Idols,” Dale humorously describes how much she valued her airline “super-duper premier executive platinum card” and ultimately admits that she’s “still an achiever in recovery.”
Whole chapters are devoted to the foundational aspects of prayer and to the critical support of friends and mentors. “If prayer is the bedrock of the second half of life, then friends are the rich soil that give form, substance, and richness to our calling.” She also addresses the value of passing on your life lessons to the younger generation.
One chapter departs from the Naomi metaphor and centers on the wilderness manna that was edible only one day. Here Dale discusses the importance of “living in the present,” letting God set the agenda, taking on the task set before her rather than relying on those old long-term goals. Though she has obviously felt the grief of letting go and moving on, maybe she has ultimately experienced her heart’s dreams come true.
The publisher’s claim that this is the “first major book to address the spiritual side of a woman’s second half of life” gave me pause. It’s been out nearly a decade, but for a midlife woman I’d also recommend Valerie Bell’s A WELL-TENDED SOUL.
--- Reviewed by Evelyn Bence
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