The Wisdom Journey
We spend the first third of our lives learning – not just our school lessons, but learning what we will need to navigate our place in the world. In these years, we acquire information and probe the accepted mores of our culture as we prepare to be productive citizens of society.
In the second third of our lives we are conscripted by duty and obligation – often joyfully so – as we raise children, work at our jobs, and pay the mortgage. We measure success – our own and that of others – in terms of accomplishments and rewards.
But in the last third of our lives we are invited to walk a deeper path as we participate in the full ripening of our souls. We are invited to travel lightly now, discarding all that weighs us down from our earlier lives and considering what seeds we will scatter for those who come after us. Like a householder taking old and new things out of his closet, we examine what has served us well and what we can dispose of.
We have some work to do on this journey, but it will be joyful, and we travel in good company. Our years have taught us that always God’s spirit guides us and surrounds us. Our walking stick is grace – God’s favor toward us. We now know that nothing of our lives has been wasted, but that all is for our benefit. We no longer strive for our own perfection, for we know that illusion is better replaced by humility.
This path we travel is not one of toil, but many of us will struggle with it – old habits can be hard to shed. So we gather some tools for our knapsacks and look for others who walk this same path. We listen for words from our guide and often find them: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).
Along the Way
Reflections and resources for the journey.
In her book The Grace in Aging, Kathleen Dowling Singh calls elders to be placeholders in society. “There is no more noble way to spend these years,” she says, “than to become an elder, to bear witness to the world as placeholders for peace, love, wisdom, and fearlessness” Read more.
Some thresholds are predictable and even chosen; others are thrust upon us – retirement, end of a marriage, loss of a relationship – invite us to stop and consider rather than rush through the time of change. Sometimes a threshold appears as dreams or intentions we have ignored too long. Sometimes we just know it is time to cross. Read more.
Passing on the Blessing
The promise – the blessing of the Holy One from the beginning of time – passes from one generation to the next in the story of Elizabeth and Mary. Old Elizabeth can speak to young Mary about that which Elizabeth has witnessed over her long life: that God will reveal God’s self in the communion of two people coming together seeking God’s blessing. Read more.