Aging, also known as growing in wisdom and maturity, is a wonderful thing. We all age from the moment life begins until death. So I am surprised when I hear the term used only for those approaching Senior Citizen status.
But when you reach that point in time when kids are grown and gone you realize aging has given you a time to reflect on what got you to this point and what you will do with the last third of your life.
For me that reflection has let to a journey of defining my personal faith and spirituality. The first thing I discovered is that faith and spirituality, like aging, are not for sissies.
I am a Catholic child of the sixties which means that the seeds of my faith and spirituality were sown at a time when old versions of these things were being redefined and given a fresh perspective. Vatican 2 and college brought changes and opportunities for faith and spirituality that grew over time and came from a God whose creation I was called on to complete and tend.
The sixties brought to my life a new sense of the social justice issues expressed through the beatitudes of the gospels. These issues rattled around in my life and I have been able to give them some attention over the years.
Faith allows me to be grounded in a God and a tradition that gives my involvement in social justice issues a sense of compassion I cannot achieve on my own.
Spirituality allows me to serve my God by allowing Him to serve me and those whose lives I try to give hope to. My work has significance, I am empowered and my work has value because of a faith expressed in the rosary when I have the courage to pray these beads. But also through my favorite hymns that remind me that God calls me by name, the He loves me and that I am His.
And so this I believe. Coming in to your own sense of faith and spirituality is a very individual process. My own journey has been influenced by visits to strange, eccentric and fascinating places like El Paso and New Orleans. There are unexplainable forces in the air in these places that have forged in me a sense that God is most present in places where life is lived on the edge. I see beyond my own spot on this earth and am connected with the absolute certainty of a force higher than myself at work in this world where to be materialistic, shallow or envious of other peoples’ wealth have no place. These area place where people from all circumstances in life have the opportunity to look each other in the eye and shake each others’ hands and realize that the same worth, dignity and pride in one’s work and family incompass us all and is the same for us all. These are places where I must slow down and savor the sense of community beyond all comprehension and the earth’s natural wonders present even in El Paso and New Orleans.
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