Midlife Matters: An Interview with Dale Hanson Bourke
I met Dale Hanson Bourke at a meeting of women involved in promoting women's health and economic empowerment in Zambia. I admired her intelligence, curiosity, and breadth of experience as a journalist and women's health advocate. Later, I traveled to Zambia to see the projects World Vision and its collaborative partners (such as World Bicycle Relief, International Justice Mission, and the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia) were undertaking to empower women and help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Dale was in Zambia at the same time, and I enjoyed getting to know her as we traveled in the beautiful countryside on very bumpy roads. I ate my first fried caterpillar with her at a World Vision ADP. When the trip was ending, we said we should have a reunion with our three traveling mates in the summer.
Remarkably, Dale was able to carve out time to host us. Her book Embracing Your Second Calling: Find Passion and Purpose for the Rest of Your Life was a frequent companion in the weeks before I saw her in Maryland. At 43, and definitely aware of being solidly in midlife, I found myself deeply moved by the book (recently re-released and updated), so it was a treat to talk with Dale about it when we were together a few weeks ago.
What follows is an excerpt from our conversation.
JG Dale, as you know, I love Embracing Your Second Calling. I was moved by the way you weave Ruth and Naomi's story throughout.
DHB I was struck by Naomi. Here was a woman for whom the first half of life was full. She had two sons—what every Jewish mother wanted. She had a good husband who provided for the family and removed them from a land broken by drought. She even had two daughters-in-law whom she loved, and who loved her.
Then her life fell apart. We're told in the Book of Ruth that she was too old to find another man and to have another child. In other words, she was in midlife. When her husband and sons died, she was angry with God. She said to him, "Change my name. Call me 'Bitter.' "
But she still loved God even when she was angry with him. She never stopped talking to him. I love that. And the fact that Ruth would stay with her and follow her back to a land plagued by drought—that speaks to the kind of person Naomi was, that Ruth would follow her.
… [A]nd it was truly miraculous the way God created a second calling for Naomi. At the end of the Book of Ruth, she is holding a baby, her grandchild. God had put her into the line of David when her own family line was dead. She was made part of the line of Jesus!
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