Ilene CummingsPaul Neevel

Ilene Cummings

At 71, she earned a doctor of ministry degree at Matthew Fox’s University

“I’ve had two lives,” says Ilene Cummings, who grew up in Irvington, New Jersey, got married after high school and had five children by age 35. “I was a full-time homemaker: PTA and apple pie.” Then, at 38, she enrolled at nearby Ocean County College. Eight years later, with a degree in literature from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a divorce, she returned to OCC to start up a non-credit human growth and development program at the Center for Adults in Transition. “It was the era of civil rights and feminism,” she says. “Women came out in droves. I was still a devoted mother, but I stopped ironing the dish towels.” She resigned six years later to open a human development counseling practice. When her children had moved on, she sold the house and took a job offer in San Francisco. “After 15 months I went out on my own,” she says. “I did women’s groups, men’s groups, retreats and seminars. People asked me to speak at events.” At 71, she earned a doctor of ministry degree at Matthew Fox’s University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland. “It helped me to develop my writing skills,” says Cummings, now 85. She has devoted her time to writing since 2010, when she moved to Eugene, home to her son James. Her book, The Truth is at my Front Door: Spiritual Direction on Aging Beautifully, was published in December of 2016. A churchgoer since childhood and a Quaker since her 40s, Cummings will offer a workshop based on the book, free and open to the public, 2-4 pm on Sundays, March 12 and 19, at the Eugene Friends Meeting House, 2274 Onyx Street.