Friday, September 6, 2013

Aging As It Should Be Done

Having the heart of a teenager when we become adults is not that uncommon, but when a grandmother well into her seventies has the sensibilities normally associated with the young we tend to marvel. A teacher of spirituality, a priest writing in the With Bible magazine, was so impressed by the poem the grandmother sent him that it became the theme of his article in the magazine, causing him to ponder his own thoughts on the gift of life we've been given.

As we age there is the tendency to act with aloofness, he says, and at the same time inadvertently, being enticed by many things in  daily life. To live habitually without expectations, without the fluttering of the heart and the promptings from our true nature, is a great sadness. To be like a block of wood as we age and let the opportunities life presents to us slip by is not what we need, he says.  Our precious memories and our sensitivity gained over the years should be integrated into our lives.

Carl Jung said that life was like the rising and setting of the sun. In the morning we are directed to the noonday sun, in the afternoon toward the waning sun that brings on the time of evening. The appendages of the morning sun are not part of the afternoon sun which has its own value and meaning, Jung said. Morning is the time of maturity and goes out to the external world; the afternoon is the time to go within, where we meet our precious memories and discover our internal treasures. It is during this time--from noon to the setting of the sun--that ripening takes place, he said, where we make  life our own.

The priest mulls over the fact that he is in his 50s and heading toward the setting sun. In the West, he says they call it "passing the threshold." The journey in the outside world comes to an end, and we enter the inner world of self. The forties are called the youth of old age, and the 50s the old age of youth, but the 50s should not be a time for inactivity, for being content to rest on past accomplishments.  Instead, cast your net into the ocean, he says, and bring in all types of fish, putting the good ones in your basket and getting rid of the useless ones. It's a time to put in order the plentiful haul we have amassed of experiences and memories,  separating the good from the bad, forgetting and remembering what needs to be forgotten and remembered, as we put in order the beautiful life God wants us to have. Old age should be a period of recovery, a time to return to the joyous wonder of youth.

He ends his article with an answer to the e-mail he received from the grandmother.  "It is necessary that we do not lose the sensibilities we had when young: The joy of reading a line of literature; writing down the thoughts in our heart, even if no one appreciates what we  have done; looking at the moon in the night sky; bringing to mind the nostalgia of the past; calling out to God and praying.  All that we have had in our youth, with its abundance of life, is not like property that we own and can discard when we wish, but is like something warm and shinning, a flowering of our inner life, a gift freely given that makes our life fruitful and beautiful."

No comments:

Post a Comment