"How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love." - BLESSED TERESA OF CALCUTTA

Sister Elizabeth Geraghty, CSJ, shares her thoughts on our culture’s sociological views and church teachings on aging, with references and inspired by the books: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr and The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, by Joan Chittister. 

En Español

Some thoughts on aging

 27th in a series (published July 30, 2015)

Perhaps one of the most important dimensions of aging is to bring us to understand that life cannot be taken for granted.

Life cannot be devoured- it can only be savored. It is to be sipped and drunk to the dregs.

The burden of having to confront those lost years lies in the fear that I have missed most of my life while I was living it head up and running.

The blessing lies in the fact that I not only come to appreciate the past, but also the present in a whole new way.

 

Read previous entries in this series below the bio.

Sr-Elizabeth-GeraghtyAbout the author 

Sister Elizabeth Geraghty, CSJ, entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1951; she has been involved in education from elementary school to high school. She served as principal of St. Clare Elementary School and taught chemistry in Holy Family High School, was Assistant Principal and Dean of Students in St. Anthony High School.  Sister Elizabeth Geraghty retired in June 2011 and now volunteers in the Diocesan Respect Life Office as coordinator of Project Rachel and at the Heart Assisted Living Facility.

********

 26th in a series (published July 21, 2015)

A burden of these years is the danger of considering ourselves useless simply because we are no longer fulfilling the roles and positions of youth.

A blessing of these years is the freedom to reach out to others, to do everything we can with everything in life that we have managed to develop all these years in both soul and mind for the sake of the rest of the human race.

Generativity — the act of giving ourselves to the needs of the rest of the world — is the single most important function of old age….Harvard men, inner-city men, and college women, it was widening their social circle as life went on that was the key factor in the achievement of successful aging, not money, not education, not family.

 

 

 25th in a series

Forgiveness: Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote: “Two aged men, that had been foes for life, met by a grave, and wept and in those tears they washed away the memory of their strife: then wept again the loss of all those years.”

A burden of these years is that we run the risk of allowing ourselves to be choked by the struggles of the past.

The hardness is in my heart now. It is far and beyond the hard-heartedness of the one who plunged the knife. It is mine, I own it. And I am suffering from it more than the person I hold responsible for the hurt. Such is the unfinished business of relationship.

A blessing of these years is the ability to see that life does not have to be perfect to be perfect: it only needs to be forgiving — and forgiven.

 

24th in a series


A person who is needed — really needed — is never lonely, never isolated, never without purpose in life. All we need to do is to go out and do something. The world is waiting for us with open arms.

A burden of these years is that we will hole up somewhere and mourn our age, our change in life, our losses.

A blessing of these years is that we will make ourselves available to the world that is waiting for us, even now, even here.

 

23rd in a series

The burden of nostalgia is that it takes us out of the present and immobilizes us in the past.

The blessing of nostalgia is that it can serve to remind us that just as we survived all of life before this, grew from it, laughed through it, learned from it as well, we can also live through this age with the same grace, the same insights — and this time, share that audacious spirit with others.

Can we begin to see ourselves as only part of the universe, just a fragment of it, not its center? Can we give ourselves to accepting the heat and the rain, the pain and the limitations, the inconveniences and discomforts of life, without setting out to passively punish the rest of the human race for the daily exigencies that come with being human?

A burden of these years is the danger of giving in to our most selfish selves.

A blessing of these years is the opportunity to face what it is in us that has been enslaving us, and to let our spirit fly free of whatever has been tying it to the Earth all these years.

 

22nd in a series

A blessing of these years is the freedom to reach out to others, to do everything we can with everything in life that we have managed to develop all these years in both soul and mind for the sake of the rest of the human race.

The second half of life is a certain kind of weight to carry, but no other way of being makes sense or gives you the deep satisfaction your soul now demands and even enjoys. This new and deeper passion is what people mean when they say, “I must do this particular thing or my life will not make sense” or “It is no longer a choice.” Your life and your delivery system are now one, whereas before, your life and your occupation seemed like two different things. Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore, but to love what you have- right now.

21st in a series

A burden of these years is allowing ourselves to become isolated from the world around us.

A blessing of these years is finding a child who will help us to step out of all the old roles and become a human being again.

Age is meant for the revival of the spirit. Age is meant to allow us to play — with ideas, with projects, with friends.

“To know how to grow old,” the Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel wrote, “is the master work of wisdom and one of the most difficult chapters in the art of living.”

Clearly, the first great confrontation with age comes with separation from the familiar. When the world that was and the world that is are on opposite sides of the fault line, the present unlike what it was before, when the lifelines shatter, then the real change has arrived. Then age comes roaring into consciousness with a whole new timbre. Then the idea of aging and becoming “old” sharpens in focus for me. My soul begins to change hue. I find myself struggling to stay psychologically alive, however strong my body seems to be.

A burden of memory in these years is to allow it to meld us into the company of people, time, and places long gone by.

A blessing of these years is to realize that our memories of both the sad and the happy, the exciting and the secure, the successes and the failures of life, are means to guide us down these last roads with confidence — the confidence that, having negotiated the demands of the past, we may safely walk into the future.

To save one life is to save the whole world. To save one life, as we get older, is to live out our own life well.

A burden of those years is to assume that the future is already over.

A blessing of these years is to give another whole meaning to what it is to be alive, to be ourselves, to be full of life — our own life.

****

20th in a series

Survival is what gives an older person the right to encourage a younger generation in the right to hope, to know that what is happening to them at the present moment is not the end either of the world or of their lives. There is always a resurrection in each of our lives, if we will only believe in it and give ourselves to its coming.

A burden of years is the possibility that I might stay more buried in my loses than aware of my gains.

A blessing of these years is the transformation of the self to be, at long last, the self I have been becoming all my life – as oasis of serenity in a world gone sour on age, the very acme of life.

Relating to a child who is not theirs enables elders to reach out beyond themselves and the confines of their own private lives to become fully human again. And having elders who are not their parents take an interest in them, talk to them, show them things their parents do not have time to do – like how to fish, or how to fix a bike, or how to bake cookies, or how to pop corn the old fashioned way — enables the child to be anchored by an adult who is not also a disciplinarian.

****

19th in a series

“Act your age” can be useful advice when you’re 17; it is a mistake when you’re 77.

When we start acting old, however old we are, we’re finished. If we’re really old when we start acting old, it’s even worse. Then, acting our age is a terminal illness. We wear ourselves down to the point that we may be breathing but we are not living.

When we fail to meet life head on, we fail to live it fully. There are temptations for the elderly in the process that are particularly deluding because they sound so sensible while they are increasingly destructive.

So we don’t go the next step to begin something new. We fail to go on becoming. We stop in our tracks with years ahead of us. And wait. We take the gift of life and return it unopened.

Living well has something to do with the spirituality of wholeheartedness of seeing life more as a grace than as a penance, as time to be lived with eager expectation of its goodness, not in dread of its challenges. We are not given life in order to suffer. We are given life in order to learn to love the Creator through the joys and beauty of creation. We are given life in order to deal gracefully with the natural suffering of being mortal creatures.

****

18th in a series 

Intergenerational friendships between an older generation and a younger one are as important to the elder as they are to the child.
Children give us a lifeline to the present and the future that is denied us if we sit alone in an independent-living unit.

They don’t play checkers anymore, but they can teach us all about video games. They might not sing lullabies, but they know the words to every song on the radio. They tell us what the new language means. They keep in touch with a warm breathing world. They keep us warm and breathing too.
Children release the child in us before it completely withers up and blows away. They connect us to the children of later generations in our own families, the ones we only see once a year or struggle to talk to on the phone.
They remind us we are still part of the human race. We are meant to be society’s wisdom center, its sign of a better life to come, its storehouse of the kind of lore no books talk about.

****

17th in a series 

In the second half of life…Erik Erikson calls someone at this stage a “generative” person, one who is eager and able to generate life from his or her abundance and for the benefit of the following generations. Because such people have built a good container, they are able to “contain” more and more truth, more and more neighbors, more and broader vision, more and more of a mysterious and outpouring God.

Ones growing sense of infinity and spaciousness is no longer found just “out there” but most especially “in here.”  The inner and outer have become one.

St. Augustine in his CONFESSIONS:

“You were within, but I was without. You were with me, but I was not with you. So you called, you shouted, you broke through my darkness, you flared, blazed and banished my blindness, you lavished your fragrance, and I gasped.”

In the second half of life, we do not have strong and final opinions about everything, every event, or most people, as much as we allow things and people to delight us, sadden us, and truly influence us.

We no longer need to change or adjust other people to be happy ourselves. Ironically, we are more than ever before in a position to change people – but we do not need to — and that makes all the difference. We have been moved from doing to being to an utterly new kind of doing that flows almost organically, quietly, and by osmosis. Our actions are less compulsive. We do what we are called to do, and then try to let go of the consequences. We usually cannot do that very well when we are young.

This is human life in its crowning, and all else has been preparation and prelude for creating such a human work of art. Now we aid and influence people simply by being who we are.

****

Sixteenth in a series

Life goes on as we know it. We cannot make the present a shrine to the past. Life goes on, we cannot arrest it. It is not possible to live in the past, however much the temptation to try. If life is for the living and we do not live in it, we doom ourselves to premature death.

What’s even more pathetic, we do it in the name of the very relationships and places and events that brought us to growth in years gone by.  These very seedbeds enable us to trust that new growth will come out of the darkness within us now. There is a thin line between memory and nostalgia. They are not the same thing.

****

Fifteenth in a series 

Past persistence, even in the face of difficulty, is what allows the older person who seems to be so far removed from the present situation to insist that quitting is not the answer to anything. Persistence may not solve everything, least in our lifetime, but is truer to the meaning of life for us to wait for another plowing, another seeding, another harvest, than not. This is the spiritual strength of the elders in every generation. It is our responsibility as well.

****

Fourteenth in a series

A burden of these years is to assume that the future is already over.
A blessing of those years is to give another whole meaning to life.

Yes, the second half of life is a certain kind of weight to carry, but no other way of being makes sense or gives you the deep satisfaction your soul now demands and even enjoys. This new and deeper passion is what people mean when they say, “I must do this particular thing or my life will not make sense.” Or “It is no longer a choice.” Your life and your delivery system are now one, whereas before, your life and your occupation seemed like two different things. Your concern is not so much to have what you love anymore but to love what you have right now.

At this stage, I no longer have to prove that I or my group is the best, that my ethnicity is superior, that my religion is the only one that God loves, or that my role and place in society deserve particular treatment. I am not preoccupied with collecting more goods and services; quite simply, my desire and effort — every day — is to pay back, to give back to the world a bit of what I have received. I NOW REALIZE THAT I have been gratuitously given to – from the universe, from society, and from God. I try now, as Elizabeth Seton said, to “live simply so that others can simply live.”

Intergenerational friendships between an older generation and a younger one are as important to the elder as they are to the child.

Children give us a lifeline to the present and the future that is denied to us if we sit alone in an independent-living unit. They don’t play checkers much anymore, but they can teach us all about video games. They might not sing lullabies, but they know the words to every song on the radio. They tell us what the new language means. They keep us in touch with a warm and breathing world; they keep us warm and breathing, too.

They remind us that we are still part of the whole human race. We are not meant to be cordoned off from the rest of society. We are meant to be its wisdom center, its sign of a better life to come, its storehouse of the kind of lore no book talks about.

****

Thirteenth in a series

Reference: Falling upward: A spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr

The present of old age, the age we bring to the present, unveils to us the invisibility of meaning. Everything in life is meaningful once we come to see it, to experience it, to look for it. Once we really come into the fullness of the present. Then we cease to take life for granted.

Life is now, only now. But who of us has ever much stopped to notice it? We did what we did in all those other years because those were the tasks of life then. But the task of life now is, simply, life. What we haven’t lived till now is waiting for us still. Behind every moment the spirit of life, the God of life, waits.

We miss the sense of importance that came with the bustle of middle age. At least we miss it until we become conscious of the new importance that comes with simply being who we are, rather than simply what we did. We miss the daily social stimulation that came with going into the office, the shop, the store, the classroom, the hospital, and being part of the team, the crowd, the birthday parties, and neighborhood barbecues.

We miss the intellectual stimulation, sense of achievement, of being needed, that came with daily problems.

A burden of these years is that we will hole up somewhere and mourn our age, our change in life, and our losses.
A blessing of these years is that we will make ourselves available to the world that is waiting for us, even now, even here.

It is the elderly who are the real signs of what life has been about and is yet meant to be. To abandon such a responsibility smacks of the immoral. “To save one life” the rabbis say, “is to save the whole world.” To save one life, as we get older, is to live our own life well.

****

Twelfth in a series

Reference: Falling upward: A spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr

Courthouses are good and necessary first-half-of-life institutions. In the second half, you try instead to influence events, work for change, quietly persuade, change your own attitude, pray or forgive, instead of taking things to court.

Life is much more spacious now, the boundaries of the container having been enlarged by the constant addition of new experiences and relationships.

In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition. God has taken care of that, much better than we ever expected. Age is meant for the revival of the spirit.

Age is meant to allow us to play — with ideas, with projects, with friends, with life. One of the better gifts of growing older is that time becomes more meaningful. Time now becomes a companion on the way. We are aware of it always, hovering over us like a chilling mist, a warming sun, waking us to the power of the immediate.

****

Eleventh in a series

Reference: Falling upward: A spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr

The resolution of earthly embodiment and divinization is what I call incarnational mysticism. As has been said many times, there are finally only two subjects in all of literature and poetry — love and death. Only that which is limited and even dies grows in value and appreciation; it is the spiritual version of supply and demand. If we lived forever, they say, we would never take life seriously or learn to love what is. Being held long and hard inside limits and tension, incarnate moments, crucibles for sure, allow us to search for and often find “the reconciling third” or the unified field beneath it all. “The most personal becomes the most universal,” Chardin loved to say.

****

Tenth in a series

Reference: Falling upward: A spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr

In the end, we do not so much reclaim what we have lost as discover a significantly new self in and through the process. Until we are led to the limits of our present game plan, and find it to be insufficient, we will not search out or find the real source, the deep well, or the constantly flowing stream. Jesus calls this Ultimate Source the “living water” at the bottom of the well, to the woman who keeps filling and refilling her own little bucket (John 4:10-14)

Your True Self is who you objectively are from the beginning, in the mind and heart of God; “the face you had before you were born,” as the Zen masters say. It is your substantial self, your absolute identity, which can be neither gained nor lost by any technique, group affiliation, morality, or formula whatsoever. The surrendering of our false self, whom we have usually taken for our absolute identity, yet is merely a relative identity, is the necessary suffering needed to find “the pearl of great price” that is always hidden inside this lovely but passing shell.

Ninth in a series

Reference: The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, by Joan Chittister

“Old age, especially an honored old age,” Cicero said, “has so great authority, that this is of more value than all the pleasure of youth.” But old age is not for nothing or there wouldn’t be any. Clearly, old age has a role to play in the development of the world around us. We do not live all these later years simply not to die. We live in order to make life better — both for ourselves and for others.

Experience is what gives an older person the right to bring, not biography, but history to the situation at hand. The historical memory of a group says that going into World War II and the invasion of Vietnam were not the same things.

Survival is what gives an older person the right to encourage a younger generation in the right to hope, to know what is happening to them at the present moment is not the end either of the world or of their lives. There is always a resurrection in each our lives, if we will only believe in it and give ourselves to its coming.

Eighth in a series

Reference: The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, by Joan Chittister

“As for old age” Seneca said, “embrace and love it. It abounds with pleasure if you know how to use it.” That is the important part. Knowing what to do with this new sense of time and space is what determines in the end just how happy, how fulfilling those years will be. And so few of us, creatures of a hard-driving, work-ridden society, really do know.

We find ourselves at the greatest moment of choice we’ve ever had, at least since we left home on our own, since we identified what we wanted to do in life, since we decided to settle down. Now we have to decide how to live without being told how it is done.

The slate is clean. The days are ours. The task now is to learn to live again. We can decide to live with joy. Or we can allow ourselves to live looking back with bitterness. It can take a while before we begin to realize that retirement really plunges us into joy. But if we decide to live this new, unscripted time with joy, then life will come pouring into us, almost more fully than we can sometimes bear.

There are lessons to be learned from life before this period that will serve us still if we will only attend to them. We have every right to live in gratitude for all the stages of life that brought us here, for the memories that give us great joy, the people who helped us get this far, the accomplishments we carved on our hearts along  the way. These experiences cry out to be celebrated. They are no more past than we are. They live in us forever.

Seventh in a series

Reference: Falling upward: A spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr
So we must stumble and fall. We must actually be out of the driver’s seat for a while, or we will never learn how to give up control to the Real Guide.

The kind of falling is what I mean by necessary suffering. It is well dramatized by Paul’s fall on the Damascus Road, where he hears the voice “why are you hurting yourself by kicking against the goad?” The goad or the cattle prod is the symbol of both the encouragement forward and our needless resistance to it, which only wounds us further.
It seems that in the spiritual world, we do not really find something until we first lose it. Three of the parables of Jesus are about losing something, searching for it anew with some effort, finding it, and throwing a big party. A sheep, a coin, a son are all lost and found in Luke 15, followed by the kind of inner celebration that comes with any new “realization;” letting go of the past and embracing a new second half of life.

Sixth in a series

Reference: The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, by Joan Chittister

A blessing of these years is the ability to see that life does not have to be perfect to be perfect; it only needs to be forgiving – and forgiven.

A burden of these years is the danger of considering ourselves useless simply because we are no longer fulfilling the roles and positions of youth.

A blessing of these years is the freedom to reach out to others, to do everything we can with everything in life that we have managed to develop in all these years in both soul and mind for the sake of the rest of the human race.
In the second half of life, we do not have strong and final opinions about everything, every event, or most people, as much as we allow things and people to delight us, sadden us, and truly influence us. We no longer need to change or adjust other people to be happy ourselves. Ironically we are more than ever before in a position to change people — but we do not need to – and that makes all the difference. We have moved from doing, to being, to an utterly new kind of doing that flows almost organically, quietly, and by osmosis. Our actions are less compulsive. We do what we are called to do, and then try to let go of the consequences. We usually cannot do that very well when we are young.

All the rest of life has been for the sake of coming to this time in it. Everything else has been practice for this time, simply gestures of what it is to live fully. It is only in the present that we learn to live, and it is the present that is the focus of old age. We live here now, only here.

Fifth in a series

Reference: The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, by Joan Chittister

All the old jokes about old people are fast wearing thin now. Ageism is a lie. The only way to counter it, however, is to refuse to allow it to taint our own lives. Age is not a thing to be pitied, to apologize for, to fear, to resist, to see as a sign of doom. Only the old can make age a bright and vibrant place to be. And so we must. If we don’t, we stand to waste a full 25 to 30 percent of our lives. And waste is a pity.

A burden of these years is the danger that we might internalize the negative stereotypes of the aging process. We might become what we fear, and so abdicate our new call in life.

A blessing of these years is that we are the ones whose responsibility it is to prove the stereotypes wrong, to give age its own fullness of life.

Fourth in a series

Reference: Falling upward: A spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr

God seems to be about “turning” our loves around (in Greek, meta-noia), and using them toward Great Love that is their true object. All lesser loves are training wheels. Many of the healing stories in the New Testament are rather clear illustrations of this message and pattern. “Her sins, her many sins, must have been forgive her, or she could not have shown such great love” (Luke 7:47). It seems her false attempts at love became the school and stepping stones to “such great love.”

It is just ultimate and humiliating realism, which for some reason demands a lot of forgiveness of almost everything. Faith is simply to trust the real, and to trust God is found within it — even before we change it. This is perhaps our major stumbling stone, the price we must pay to keep the human heart from closing down and to keep the soul open for something more.

Third in the series

Reference: The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, by Joan Chittister

Old age is not a free ride to irresponsibility. Now we must take our place among the sages of the world, comparing, evaluating, cajoling, and bringing experience to bear as have the elders of every generation before us.
Now, too, we have a responsibility to mentor the generation after us in the values and ideals that built a society based on equality, respect for others, and pluralism. Moreover we have the spiritual responsibility to see life as a moral force rather than simply a private enterprise.
The blessing of a commitment to accomplishment is that, as we continue to bring our considerable skills, experience, and insight to bear on the present needs of humankind, we will certainly become wiser, definitely spiritually stronger, and more than ever a blessing to the rest of society.
A burden of these years is to assume that when the great change from being defined and delimited by the past — however good it may have been — is over, then life is over.
A burden of those years is that we will hole up somewhere and mourn our age, our change in life, and our losses.
A blessing of these years is that we will make ourselves available to the world that is waiting for us, even now, even here.
A blessing of these years is to realize, early, that this stage of life is full of possibilities, full of the desire to go on living, to seize the independence, to create new activities and networks of interesting new people.
The truth is that there are no circumstances in life more important than being able to deal with the changes that come as we age. These are the coping skills that will take us to the end. The happiness of the last years of our life depends on them.
A burden of these years is that we must consciously decide how we will live, what kind of person we will become now, what kind of personality and spirituality we will bring into every group, how alive we intend to be.
A blessing of these years is being able to live so open-heartedly, and to adjust so well, that others look to us and see what being old can bring in terms of life, of holiness, of goodness to make the world new again.
“The young know the rules,” Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote. “The old know the exceptions.” There is a softening of heart that comes with age, not out of virtue so much as out of experience. By 70, we not only know that no one is perfect, we know that no one can be. Not that life is nothing but a series of exceptions to be reckoned with, to be mediated, to be understood. Our standards are only that — standards. They are not absolutes, and those who seek to make them so fall in the face of their own rigidities.
A burden of these years is that we run the risk of allowing ourselves to be choked by the struggles of the past.
A blessing of these years is the ability to see that life does not have to be perfect to be perfect; it only needs to be forgiving — and forgiven.

Second  in the series

Reference: The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, by Joan Chittister

To be 65 in an age like ours is to feel bad even when we feel good. We are, after all, “old” now.
Except we don’t feel “old”, and we don’t think “old.” We’re too old to get a job, they tell us – but they want us to volunteer all the time.

Negative stereotypes exaggerate isolated characteristics and ignore positive characteristics entirely. So older people are portrayed as slow, but not wise or patient, we see them as ill, but not as quite in charge of their own lives. It is a pathetic moment in the history of the human condition when the outside world tells us who and what we are — and we start to believe it ourselves.

The point is we are the only icons of aging that younger people will get to meet. What we show them as we go gives them a model of what they, too, can strive for. We show them the way to fullness of life. Past persistence, even in the face of difficulty, is what allows the older person — who seems to be so far removed from the present situation -– to insist that quitting is not the answer to anything. Persistence may not solve everything — at least in our lifetime — but it is truer to the meaning of life for us to wait for another plowing, another seeding, another harvest, than not. This is the spiritual strength of the elders in every generation. It is our responsibility as well.

A burden of these years is the temptation to consider ourselves obsolete, and to waste this precious time only on ourselves. It is the temptation for ultimate narcissism. A blessing of these years is our involvement in the important questions of the present, so that the time to come will be more blessed than our own – because of the insights we both preserve in ourselves and pass on to others before we go.

The problem is that preparation for aging in our modern world seems to be concentrated almost entirely on buying anti-wrinkle creams and joining a health club — when the truth is that what must be transformed now is not so much the way we look to other people, as it is the way we look at life. Age is the moment we come to terms with ourselves. We begin to look inside ourselves. We begin to find more strength in the spirit than in the flesh.

Life changes; it is the essence of life to change. It is the spiritual character of life to make demands, to bring new challenges, to goad us into living it. But that life changes is not the issue. Change is obvious. It will come whether we like it or not. Whether we admit it or not, whether we want it or not. That’s simply obvious, too. The real issue is far more subtle than that. It is not change that will destroy us. It is the attitude we take to it that will make all the difference. The frame of mind we bring to it gives meaning to the end of one phase of life, of course. But more than that, it also determines the spiritual depth with which we start this new phase.

This period is a new period of spiritual development that is meant to be more than a development of self. It is about something for our own sake, and the sake of the entire human community. A burden in these years is the feeling of finality that comes from knowing that this time, however much of it is left, is the end time. Then the weight of what is left to be finished in us takes its toll.

A blessing of these years is that we can, if we will, make them something glorious, a kind of shooting star across the sky of the human race.

First in the series

Reference: Falling upward: A spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr

Life, as the biblical tradition makes clear, is loss and renewal, death and resurrection, chaos and healing at the same time; life seems to be a collision of opposites. Jesus did not seem to teach that one size fits all, but instead that God adjusts to the vagaries and factors of the moment. This ability to adjust to human disorder and failures is named God’s providence or compassion.

Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.

Sister Elizabeth Geraghty, CSJ,  My Thoughts Blog Archives