Another birthday has come and gone. I am now looked upon as an old-old, that is according to an article I just read. To use John Denver's words "I have become what I never thought I would be." It is so appropriate those words are from "Some days are diamond, some days are stone," which describes perfectly the reality of my life. It is not either/or, but/and. On reflection, there was a time I did not see life beyond the 30's, because, anyone over thirty was not to be trusted. So Joe, "you have come a long ways baby." Now the obvious question is, "What now"? How is life different, and what are the challenges to be faced? How prepared am I to become aware of, and accepting of, the gifts that come with the aging process? Aging is not all about loss. There are gifts to be recognized and accepted, celebrated, and shared. What are the responsibilities I have to those who have yet "to trudge the road of happy destiny"? So the truth of the matter is that as one gets older one loses, and one gains. The physical prowess slowly ebbs away. I cannot do now the hikes I was able to do. I found out, this week, that what was once seen as an easy, level hike, is now a slow ascending climb. It was once, so easy, I had the impression it was a level trail, now I see that reality in a different light? I cannot change the topography, so Joe has to accept, and adjust to this new reality. The revelations of the limitations of my humanity is more and more part of my daily living. Yes, while reflecting on this journey, this hike, through life one sees so much disappear, caught up in a Paschal Death. This means, thanks to the mercy of a gracious God, where loss, death is a reality, there appears a new, and a more spiritual understanding of the real realities of life. In Paschal death, death is not the end but a beginning of a new way of living. We become, no, that is not right, why? I have, just now, forgotten the words "of ourselves we can do nothing, but we can do all things in Him Who strengthens us." I must remember, and daily renew my belief in the creative power of The Higher Power. The power, the miracle of Grace strengthens us ever anew. We are ever new because of what we lose, or surrender, whether forced or of our own volition. The whole spiritual journey is all about letting go, surrendering. How I detest those words, surrender, let go. I, my egocentric ego, wants control, and is not a happy camper when it has to surrender, let go. Learning to let go is a process. It is made just a little easier sometimes, when we are faced with a lack of energy."The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," and weakening. There is now a greater reliance on a gracious God Who never leaves us. That Power of creative is ever active, often in ways we will never understand. We do not need to understand, just accept, and have gratitude. Where there is gratitude there cannot coexist resentment, and bitterness. When we surrender to those latter feelings then the way out, to serenity, is gratitude. This does work.Neither the physical world, or the spiritual world can tolerate a vacuum. Something must fill the space created by loss, and that is ALL LOSSES. There are no exceptions to this rule. The loss, that creates this vacuum, may be the death of a pet gold fish, or a child, a beloved, a friend, a lost job, a lost school, a lost parish etc. etc., the list is endless. Into the vacuum created ,must be welcomed The Creative Spirit. Why is that necessary? It is necessary, no, essential so that the miracle of new life may be revealed in us, to us, and through us, to others. The miracle of new birth may happen within us but it is NOT for us alone. It cannot, must not stop with us. That is for our benefit and others. "The gifts we have been giver are NOT for ourselves but for the building up of the common good"(Paul). That is the opposite of "What is yours is mine, and what is mine is my own." There lies the cause of so much unhappiness, war, and mayhem. This is true of our own lives, our family's life, and is being revealed to us in the struggle between nations. We must always be reminded that the line between war and peace runs through the middle of the human heart. Yours and mine. War begins with me, peace is a gift to be chosen and it lies deep with.
We are part of a greater picture, a greater story. Life is not about me, I belong to a greater reality. My story is part of a greater story. Our story is the continuation of the story first begun many million and billions years ago. The story of creation is about 14 billion years old. The story of our world is now about 4.5 billion years in it's telling. What is so awe-full, so wonder-full each person adds a unique flavor to its telling. Each and every thought, each and every actions adds a new word, a new sentence, to the ongoing mysterious story of God both hidden and revealed in the history of creation. We will be "life givers or, death dealers," dependent on the everyday actions of our every day life. This gives each action, each event a value that must come to appreciate, and reverence. This is a process that happens when life is lived, and lived to the fullest. For this we have been called. For this mysterious journey we have been chosen. For this we have been taken and set apart, as the beloved. You the beloved. In so far as we claim and live that reality will we live our lives in union with, The Beloved. The Beloved has loved you and me from eternity. A reality we must claim each and every moment, of each and every day. In this claiming we not only come to believe we are the beloved but we begin to live our lives reflecting that reality.
Here is what Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, "The Life of The Beloved" page 36. This is our Beloved speaking to us:
"I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother's womb. I have carved you in the palm of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness, and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair of your head and guided your every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will satisfy all your thirst. I will not hide My face from you. You know me as your own and I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse...even your child…wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.
There is so much love, tenderness, mystery, hidden in these words. They cannot be rushed through, as one may do with a novel. This is food for the depths. So read slowly. Maybe a word at a time. A part of a sentence at a time. Let it seep into the depths of our consciousness and there awaken........