Long time Fort Saskatchewan resident and Deacon, William Bell, has recently written and published his first book through Friesen Press, a non-fiction titled: Celebrate the Harvest: a Guide to the Spiritual Needs and Religious Life of Older Adults.
“The focus of the book is outlined in in the title,” explained Bell. “It’s about the spiritual needs and the religious life of older adults. I, myself, am an older adult, but I have a whole background in working with older adults and I have a sense that how we approach our aging process makes a whole difference in the quality of our life. If we approach it with sadness and regret, that’s how we live the rest of our lives, but if we approach it as if life is a journey and I’ve had a wonderful journey so far and the rest of my journey is going to be great, then we have a whole different outlook on life, and the quality becomes totally different.”
Bell says that, in part, the book addresses the trends of Western culture to idolize youth and devalue the elderly.
“We live in a world where youth is highly valued and age is not highly valued to that degree in our society. This is quite unlike many other cultures, where age is associated with wisdom and is there to be valued. So they approach the journey in an entirely different way. So that’s really what it’s about: how do we look forward to our advancing years, and how can we position that and position ourselves so that it’s a positive experience.”
Bell is a Deacon, ordained to the Sacred Order of the Diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church in 2010. The book, in turn, approaches aging from a Christian perspective, using scripture, poems, lyrics and other literary devices to deliver its message. But, Bell explains that the book is for any and all audiences.
“It’s not intended to appeal only to a Christian population. There is a section in the book where I compare Christian, Jewish, and Muslim people, because their spiritual needs are all the same. And for the secular world, our needs are all the same as well. We talk about things like the need for forgiveness, and the need for love and relatedness. These kind of things are not Christian needs, they are universal needs.”
This is William Bell’s first book, but it is one that has been in the works for many years. Bell’s interest in the topic started when he completed his Masters in Health Administration out of the University of Minnesota, completing his thesis on the spiritual needs of older adults. Turning his interest in the topic into a novel has been on Bell’s bucket list ever since, but he only recently found the time with the onset of Covid-19 and the free time brought on by the lockdowns.
“It’s really about helping us to understand aging,” summarized Bell. “It provides a perspective, and it provides information about what our spiritual needs are and how our religious life can affect us positively, or negatively, in that journey. But it really focuses on life as a journey, and aging as part of that journey.”
Bell is 74 years young, and has been living in Fort Saskatchewan with his wife Wendy for more than 26 years. They have three adult children, two grandchildren, and an exuberant English Labrador. The Bell family enjoy volunteering their time and talents in two supportive living residences, a soup kitchen, and the local Food Bank.
Celebrate the Harvest is available online through Amazon order, and has recently been stocked at Edmonton locations of Chapters/Indigo. Bell loves to chat with the public, and is available for comments, questions and conversations through his website, www.celebratetheharvest.ca.