Scott Peck, who is best known for his book, "The Road Less Traveled", followed it a few years later with a stunner titled , "The People of the Lie". While his prior book was enlightening and encouraging, the second I mention was revealing and frightening to me as I read it. In it, Peck writes of true evil existing in seeming "normal" people we encounter every day whose goal is to break the spirits of those around them mainly through lies. He reveals that these individuals can be found in all walks of life and income levels and pick victims where they find them. Peck also postulates that evil is actually an illness and as such he offers a cure. He cautions that although a normal reaction to being attacked is to go on the defensive and give back evil for evil, the actual cure is to send back good. Peck says in this way the balance of the Universe is upset. The cure he suggests for evil is love. The most upsetting part is that he suggests that those being preyed upon absorb the evil but cautions that this can kill the individual being targeted. Peck's solution is a very secular description of the Gospel teachings in which there is a victim with no support other than to absorb the evil. Some of what Peck poses is true. There are people who exhibit evil in their actions either through their free choice or untreated mental illness and choosing to return evil for evil further harms the person being preyed upon, but there is an addendum to Peck's hypothesis. I am grateful that we have help from Our Lord who constantly encourages us through the Bible. Today's readings from Psalm 36 in the Liturgy of the Hours are a reflection of this.
"Do not envy the wicked: do not be jealous of those who do evil.
They will dry up as quickly as hay; they will wither like the grass.
Put your trust in the Lord and do good, and your land and habitation will be secure. Take your delight in the Lord and He will give you what your heart desires.
Entrust your Journey to the Lord and hope in Him and He will act. He will make your uprightness shine like the light, your judgement like the sun at noon.
Take your rest in the Lord and hope in Him: do not envy the one who thrives in his own way, the man who weaves plots. Abstain from wrath, abandon anger. Do not envy him who turns to evil..."
It is true that evil resides among us but we have a path to follow to help us not to be overtaken by it. "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good."
There is a common phrase: "go where the Spirit leads you". I love the freedom in being led since I almost have the sense of being pulled in a direction without effort on my part. It is a call from within that creates a centripetal force uniting my mind, body and will with purpose. There are so many thoughts that we, as humans, process simultaneously. I first became aware of this when I was a new mother raising small children. The mindless tasks of folding laundry and washing dishes allowed me the luxury of thinking far deeper than I had previously on human existence and the origins, meaning, and purpose of life. Subsequently, the next step of my journey was in a career and as I settled in the workforce, my mind was more focused on producing reports and taking notes than on exploring the depths but I was already aware of the possibilities. I call it "inspiration" to be led down paths of discovery to celebrate with awe the wonder of Creation and human existence. I can no longer look at a tree, insect or sunrise in ignorance. I am inspired and led to praise the Creator of such wonder. Being human, my great temptation is to answer the call of the television or turn up the volume so I miss the opportunity to go deep and reflect on what I know. That is, if I resist the temptation to fill my mind with endless noise, the Lord, who is my Shepherd, will lead me beside the still waters and restore my Soul. Psalm 23: 1-3.
A friend once said to me: "don't look back you are not headed in that direction." I laughed but in retrospect, it makes sense. There are no "do overs" but we do have the opportunity to change the direction we are heading. I have heard people make reference to a goal they have set as their "North Star". This tends to be a long term, high level, aspirational goal that motivates, inspires and uplifts the individual. That exactly describes where I find myself on this new day as I launch my new company and website. My North Star goal is to share the Good News and I hope you join me in my quest. I am inspired and uplifted and I hope you will be also as we begin this journey together.
Each day we read of restrictions being lifted that were imposed during the most recent COVID-19 surge. That is all taking place outwardly but what am I doing personally to open myself up to fully receive life? How many times have I “masked” my true feelings and concern for those around me. How many times do I intentionally “isolate” myself from encountering others in their space? All of these restrictions are self imposed and able to be lifted at any time but it will require me to issue my own “Executive Order” to myself. We live in a free and open society but I am limited by my own prejudices and fears of being harmed physically, emotionally or spiritually. These fears are mostly reality based and come from the experiences of my life but the “what ifs” are a larger part of what controls my freedom to be truly free. Each new day I can make the choice to release myself from my self imposed restrictions and choose to live life to the fullest by opening myself to its possibilities. Today I choose to “unmask” myself and not “isolate” or “insulate” myself from those around me. This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad.
The times when I have been tempted to be discouraged about what is happening in my life or in the world I only have to reflect on times when things righted themselves without any intervention from me. Perspective and faith are two words that have become my mantra as I age. My perspective of a situation resides within me and I determine the angle of my view. I filter everything through the lens of my own life experience and sometimes vicariously through the lens of those I trust. As I have mentioned in the past, my perspective is more clear through my rear view mirror than when I am actually face to face with any situation. There is one truth, however, that continues to rise above every new situation. That is that even though a new challenge may look different than the one before, it becomes easier to trust that it too shall right itself and I am able to face that challenge with more resilience. Those of us who have lived many decades have faced a myriad of personal and world challenges. I was alive during WW II when many families, including mine, were minus their fathers for four years while they were fighting in the armed services. I have witnessed the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in the 6o’s as well as the Viet Nam War. Those who are older than me have also lived through a world wide depression that crippled the nation. What we elders have to offer the younger generations is the encouragement to keep on trusting that they are part of the fabric of a great nation and the resilience they are gaining now will be the encouragement for the generations to come.
I am often overwhelmed when I make the time to take in the beauty of creation. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the grass grows, the flowers bloom and the birds sing. It is during these times of reflection that I allow God’s Grace to enter my being. It is a gift that allows me to realize that there is a Divine Order and that we humans, as much as we might argue otherwise, are subject to it. If I take a moment and study a bee flying from flower to flower I see there is a purpose to his efforts as it gathers and deposits the pollen. The bee with no power of reason follows Divine Order without questioning or arguing the purpose of his movements. However, I have the free will to choose my path and purpose even if it is in direct conflict with Divine Order. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask that His Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. It is through His Grace that I can pray that His Will be done in me as it is in Heaven. When I look at the bee I can see how much is accomplished through this insect as part of the plan through all creation. I pray for the grace to be more aware of my ability to sincerely cooperate with God’s Will in my life.
Acceptance with Joy is a goal and not an easy one for me to achieve. I believe in Divine Order and that there is a perfect plan for my life. I also believe that all things work for good and it is within this framework that I strive to cooperate to align my life situations to my beliefs.
I mentioned in past posts that many of my “aha” moments have usually come in my rear view mirror when I have seen that difficult situations have resulted in great blessings in my life. I am again at that cross roads where I am choosing to trust that God uses all situations for my good and wants to renew and restore me. I can accept with resignation or I can choose to cooperate with Joy. Today I am choosing to cooperate using the Joy of the Lord as my strength. With Him, all things are possible.
I have always believed that it is good to remain flexible mentally, physically and emotionally and to be in tune with my environment in order to adjust to any changes in real time. Easy to say and so hard to do. I find myself being lulled into a false sense of comfort and ease that makes me unaware of impending change. I say this today, five days after an event that rocked my world.
I am leaving a work system that has not only nourished me and my Family physically but fed my very soul. I was preparing to leave so I was beginning to deal with all of the stages of grief that such a separation would ultimately result in. However, the decision needed to be made immediately and leaves me to catch up with my thoughts and emotions.
This is not the first time that an abrupt upheaval has moved me. I know, as humans, we go through many changes in our lives. Some we choose and some are the result of someone else’s choices. I feel fortunate to have had many opportunities to learn how to adjust and to know that many changes can only be truly appreciated in the rear view mirror.
Looking back I have honestly said to myself many times that a life altering change that seemed to be a calamity at the time was truly a blessing and if it had not happened, I would not be experiencing the good it brought about.
Some of the good can be measured in the physical but most of it takes place in my spirit and it urges me to move forward in God’s Will for my life. Truly I have found that every circumstance does give me the freedom and liberty to move forward. Each time I make the choice to set out on a new path, I find that it is the very same path I have been on but just a little closer to my true Home. I plan to use this space to share my experiences as I write this new chapter in my life and I invite you to join me.
The world has changed in the past few months due to COVID-19 but have I? What has always struck me is that I am always drawn to statistics about large numbers of individuals dying at the same time. It is the shock value of the quantity leaving our planet. The truth is, it is an individual who is leaving since we die one at a time, and one death should raise the same awareness in me whether it is in our country or a distant land. Yes, the cause of the death of these astounding numbers alarms me because this cause knows no geography, language, economic status or culture. It does tend to prey on the most vulnerable but does that make it unique? What makes it unique is the random categories it affects. Each day becomes a look into my future. What new symptoms are there…do I have any of them? The irony of the vigilance is that it should always be there, not in a way to cause me anxiety each moment of my day, but in the sense that my future is known. I will be leaving some day but I do have this moment to reach out to those I love and let them know. The death of the Spirit is to be mourned beyond the death of the body. I do believe in the resurrection of the body and life after death. I have no proof but I have the Hope. I have seen that people who have symptoms of a life threatening illnesses take the opportunity to make choices about the next days, hours, minutes and seconds. This virus has made me do that also. I cannot say that I am aware every moment, but I am making a sincere effort to be conscious in the present and take the opportunity to be grateful for the air I breathe and the gifts that surround me. I hope to never to return to my complacency and that this virus has changed me forever…for the better.
All too frequently these days I am reminded of the words of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz when she warns Dorothy that the last to go has to watch the others go before her. Every time I lose a loved one or friend I feel the void and am again forced to face my own mortality. That is a gift that too often I brush aside, therefore, being compelled to focus, centers me. Even though my faith sustains me, my questions bubble to the surface. My biggest fear is that I will not be prepared. Who can be? Some people leave us after a prolonged illness, others in a flash like super-star, Kolbe Bryant. How many individuals in the lane next to us on the expressway are on their way to say farewell to a loved one as I worry about making my nail appointment? “Please Lord, let me be aware of the suffering of others. Let me be sensitive to their loss and longing as we pass in our day to day lives. Connect us in the knowledge of our impermanence that unites us beyond any race, color, creed or orientation that separates us. I ask this in Your Name, Amen!”
I was reminded recently that I often take the small blessings in my life for granted and only look beyond for the larger miracles. I love the song: “His Eye is On the Sparrow” and I heard it sung Saturday at the funeral of a co-worker’s parent. It is amazing to me that I am always searching for eagles when there are so many sparrows in my view that are confirmation of the abundance of God’s Creation and the proof of His Protection. In searching for signs I have again been reminded that it is in the constancy of the things I take for granted that I will find my Joy. “I sing because I’m happy and I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” I am also reminded in Matthew 6:26-32: “Look at the birds of the air for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.” It is a good reminder to me to always be aware of all the small blessings that surround me daily. I will remind myself each time I see a sparrow that “I know He watches me”.
The weather outside today is a miserable and even the lighthouse I can usually see outside my window is obscured by the precipitation. However, although unseen by me, I believe it is there. Sometimes that happens in my spiritual life when the “light” is hidden from me and I feel that I am alone and on my own. That is when my past experiences reignite my faith and I remember times when those feelings would wash over me only to discover later that I was sustained by an unseen source of protection. So much of our life is lived by faith in human ingenuity. Trusting that the light will go on when we flip the switch or that the bridge over the river will hold us and all of the other cars travelling across with us. I have faith that there is a loving Creator who sustains me but it is evidence based since I am here, by Grace, sharing with you now. If you wish, please share your experiences of faith to encourage us all.
Four years ago this blog was hacked and locked down. I am so grateful that a very talented computer expert was not only able to unlock my site but was able to preserve my posts. The good news is that re-reading them after this amount of time has recommitted me to continue to share my personal thoughts on aging in a world that does not honor the process or the aged. I have come to these conclusions through my own experiences as well as observations. I admire individuals who are able to express their fears and phobias and fully face them. The fear of decline and death is very subtle and resides inside all of us. We are comfortable in our own skin and who wants to watch it turn into crepe paper and wrinkle up. Philosophers like Heni Nouwen postulated that people don’t want to face their own inevitability of death and so they avert their eyes from the elderly and focus on something else. I am further down the road than most of you and believe me, it has become more difficult to avert my eyes and my focus. I am more fortunate than some to have added on all of these years and yet how many is enough? As you age, your body keeps reminding you as if mirrors aren’t enough. Nouwen encourages us (me) to make friends with the aging stranger inside of me. That is easier said than done. To do so I would have to admit that she and I are the same age! I have aged four years since I last posted on this blog and yet, it is like it was yesterday. This blog is my way of facing my inevitability and sharing my thoughts with the aging stranger inside of me. I am graced that I believe that there is more beyond this life but the mystery surrounding the transfer from one to the next is fodder for another posting. It is great to be back, four years is a long time.
The schedule that Pope Francis has embarked upon in his visit to the United States would challenge a person of any age. Yet, even at the age of 78, he is moving forward propelled by an energy fueled by purpose. Many times during the last few days of live television coverage of events, news reporters have commented on how tired and frail he appears only to have him stand and deliver an inspired, energized sermon. I believe it is not age that defeats us but lack of purpose. When we believe in something as strongly as the Pope does, we can summon energy from within ourselves to move forward regardless of our age or circumstances. The secret is to find that cause that gives us purpose. I believe we all have that assignment within us and it is up to us to bring it forth. What do you think? Let me know.
Have you ever met someone who you immediately connected with that you had nothing in common with such as: race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or age? This happens to me frequently but it is just recently that I have begun to question why. It occurs to me that the Spirit transcends all of these differences since they are all grounded in the mind, body and emotions. The more I question, the more I have come to accept that there is a part of me that attracts and is attracted to a life force that I recognize as Spirit. This attraction ultimately invites conversation and that is the place where we disclose that fact, sharing frequently, the circumstances when and how we first “knew”. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, “…some divine truths are attainable by human reason, while others surpass the power of human reason.” I find that the conversations that are the result of spiritual attraction tend to concentrate on affirming that our experiences transcend human reason and that we can connect spiritually regardless of our religious beliefs, age, race, color, gender or sexual orientation. Let me know if you agree.
I picked this topic because it is very hard for me to be the first to engage another in conversation. I tend to be shy and not take up too much space so speaking feels like encroachment. Writing has been my solution and with email and texting, no one need be bothered with my words, just scroll or delete! Blogging is even less intrusive, take it or leave it…respond or ignore. I am however, reaching out to discuss a topic that touches all mortals and that is our mortality. We inherited it, we ignore it and we fear it. Each day we survive, is a gift. Each time we distract our minds with mediocre material is one less opportunity to dwell on our ultimate end. Do not fault me for invading your space…if you have actually read this far, you have let me in. I am merely trying to engage you, in dialogue, at your pace, in your own space. Promise me you will engage yourself in the conversation. I guarantee you will have a willing listener. Try it and let me know how it goes.
My newest resolution is to “be” in the moment. So much of my life has been focused on the past and the future and being still and aware in the moment has been a challenge. Now, as I am writing this, I am feeling less pressure to go beyond this moment. Writing has always been a centering for me, a way to choose my words in the present. Perhaps that is why social media and texting are so important to society today. Communicating, using the written word, stops me for a moment in order to collect my thoughts, which happens less when I am speaking in a stream of consciousness. That is not to say that everything I write should be shared, nor is it, but it is in the moment of composition that I am truly focused on the moment. That being said, I have been on the planet during the greatest technological advances in our ability to communicate the written word. However, what is being communicated probably hasn’t changed that much in thousands of years. The desire to be understood by and to understand others is at the root of all communication. That is the purpose of my writing and this blog. I want to connect the generations and affirm that regardless of our tools of communication, and, regardless of our race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or age, we can, if we are in the moment, communicate and understand one another. Let me know your thoughts.
The longer I am on the planet, the more I realize that age, as with anything subjective, is relative. We begin the aging process the second we are born but it doesn’t really impact us until we reach the age that we, ourselves, define as “old”. I have reached that age several times during my seven decades but then decided to “kick the can down the road” to a new benchmark once arriving at what I had previously designated. My first recalculation occurred at the age of 25. I thought this was the beginning of the end having lived a quarter of a century! I have to admit, once getting over that hump, no birthday has held as much significance but I still measure the decades with qualifiers. For example, getting to my half century celebration gave me the satisfaction of knowing that I no longer had to try to work so hard at qualifying as “young” looking or acting but I could take it easy being on the young side as a woman of a “certain age”. Well, I have blown through that little facade and am now contemplating a three quarter century mark, still a few years away, but close. I can only tell you that I still don’t know how old is old. I thought I did several times until I reached the target I had designated in my own aging process. If you are older than I am, you think I am young. If you are younger, you think I am old and you will think that, until you get here.
AGEISM…MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING! I recently read Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search For Meaning”. This is my third reading of this thought provoking manuscript and since the first time I read it in my 30’s, each reading changes the way I view the life I am leading. Frankl completed this book in nine days following his release from a concentration camp at the end of WW II. He writes that his story is: “not about the suffering and death of great heroes and martyrs…but the sacrifices, the crucifixion and the deaths of a great army of unknown and unrecorded victims.” Frankl recounts that he was no longer a psychiatrist but only number 119,104. This is very significant since he was totally removed from his identity and given a totally new one. This is truly what all of the stages of our life are about. I will be sharing thoughts from this book with you through the next posts but the focus will be on what Frankl has to say about being stripped of all that is known and familiar and being reduced to the lowest denominator of sometimes hourly survival. I honor this man who so fully lived and documented man’s search, our search for meaning. What is your experience? Have you read this great book? We would love to know.
There is nothing like a birthday to wake me up to the reality that time is marching on. Marking time’s passage is an occasion for celebration of life as family and friends gather to witness the blowing out of candles and the eating of cake. To have survived another year, to have experienced the ups and hopefully fewer downs, is indeed a cause for joy. We celebrate aging but not the aged. As a society, how do we reconcile the dichotomy? After all, to age is to survive. Surely that is the hope we have as we witness the fragility of life around us. Natural disasters, senseless killing, accidents…others have left and we are here, we have figuratively and literally “dodged another bullet”. What is our purpose? Is it merely to survive to blow out the candles and eat the cake? Viktor E. Frankl is the author of a book that literally changed my life decades ago. I am grateful not only for his survival but for his ability to put into words and actions a philosophy for life and living. I would like on this, the occasion of my birthday, to reflect in future blogs on his book, “Man’s Search For Meaning”. It is based not only on his physical survival but the growth of his spirit while in a concentration camp during WWII. Frankl’s survival is a testimony to the reason we blow out the candles and eat the cake. It is to celebrate not just the aging of the body, the physical testimony to longevity…it is to celebrate the growth and blooming of the Spirit of man which never dies but continues to rejuvenate through the passage of years. Its message is to look beyond the physical and celebrate the Spirit within…let us light the candles that never go out and eat the cake of wisdom. Dr. Frankl wrote his book in 1945 in 9 successive days and he wrote it as he states: “to prove that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones”. I hope you will read and comment on the upcoming blogs.
Happy 4th of July/Independence Day!
I believe that one of the hardest tasks we have as human beings is to see ourselves in others. I have heard it said that our natural tendency is to fear in others what we fear ourselves. I have also been taught that fear is the basis of all prejudice. If this is true, then we must realize our mortality in the aging since as a society we seems to toss them aside. Henri Nouwen set out in his book, “Aging, The Fulfillment of Life”, to convince society that, “we will never be able to give what we cannot receive. Only when we are able to receive the elderly as our teachers will it be possible to offer the help they are looking for. As long as we continue to divide the world into the strong and the weak, the helpers and the helped, the givers and the receivers, the independent and the dependent, real care will not be possible, because then we keep broadening the dividing lines that caused the suffering of the elderly in the first place.” Henri continues, “the most important important contribution to the elderly is to allow them a chance to bring us into a creative contact with our own aging. Just as the handicapped should remind us of our limitations, the blind, our lack of vision, the anxiety ridden, our fears and the poor, our poverty–so the old should remind us of our aging. Thus we can be brought in touch with the fullnessof the life experience by an inner solidarity with all human suffering and all human growth.” Henri also states that denying the aging process can cause “great harm” to the person not receiving this truth. This blog will continue to study other philosophies on aging, please add your thoughts and personal experiences.
Henri Nouwen has postulated that, “care for the aging means, more often than not, means confronting all men and women with their (our) illusion of immortality out of which the rejection of old age comes forth…Care for the aging, after all, means care for all ages, since all human beings–whether they are ten, thirty, fifty, seventy, or eighty years old–are participating in the same process of aging.” He wants us to encourage the acceptance of aging in youth and the understanding that “being” should not be measured by “having”. Henri proposes that society encourage that instead of measuring success by grades, degrees and positions that we help everyone focus on contact with our inner selves where we can experience our own “solitude and silence as potential recipients” of the light. “When one has not discovered and experienced the light that is love, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, kindness, and deep joy in the early years, how can one expect to recognize it in old age?” He reminds us: “If you have gathered nothing in your youth, how can you find anything in your old age?” (Si 25: 3-4). Henri considers confrontation the “radical side of care, because it promotes a risky detachment from the concerns of the world and a free manifestation of that love which can change the shape of our society. It not only unmasks the illusions but also makes visible the healing light that gives us the ‘power to become children of God’.” Remember our earlier discussion of Rembrandt? He visually employed both acceptance and confrontation by painting his self portrait as he aged. He faced his own brokenness and invited us, while viewing his self-portraits, to confront our own illusions. Do you confront your aging self? It is a gift…embrace it. What is your experience? When was your first awareness of your own mortality? Take this moment to confront and embrace it…
Henri asks: “What does caring mean when we think of the many people for whom growing old has become a way to the darkness. What is there to say to men and women who feel forgotten and lonely, and who are approaching death as the only way to escape their misery?” He admits there are no easy answers and points out to us that : “The painful suffering of many old people which makes their aging a way to the darkness cannot be understood by pointing to their mistakes, weaknesses or sins. By doing so we might avoid the realization that the fate of many old people reflects an evil that is the evil of a society in which love has been overruled by power, and generosity by competition.” Henri’s conclusion is that we must see our own “greedy faces” in those who have been rejected by their society. “In the honest and painful recognition of human rejection God’s acceptance can be affirmed.” I love Henri Nouwen’s explanation that even the victories of one’s life do not matter as the end approaches. I am paraphrasing, but he states is that what is needed is someone to reach out and understand with compassion and a listening ear and affirm that: “I know–you had only one life to live and it cannot be lived again, but I am here with you and I care…God’s acceptance can be felt through the gentle touch of the one who cares and allows the miserable stranger(our own fear and denial) into his own home.” Do you have any thoughts as we reach the conclusions of Henri Nouwen’s ,”Aging”? Have you had the privilege of bringing your own fears into the light? Do you find yourself identifying with and connecting to someone who is obviously reaching the end of their life’s journey? We need to know!
After dealing with “caring as the way to the self”, Henri ponders “caring as the way to the other”. According to Henri, “caring can lead to a new self-understanding, but this self-understanding can never be its own goal”. Instead, “we are called to put our aging self at the service of the aging other. The challenge of the care for the elderly is that we are called to make our own aging self the main instrument of our healing.” Henri goes on to assert that “caring for the elderly is not a special type of care.” This is a lot to digest. It almost seems like a riddle but let me try to work through this in my own experience since my current position is is designed to work with the elderly. According to Henri, “as soon as we start thinking about care for the aging as specialization, we are falling into the trap of societal segregation which care is precisely trying to overcome. When we allow our world to be divided into young, middle-aged, and old people, each calling for a specialized approach, then we are taking the real care out of caring, since the development and growth of men and women take place, first of all, by creative interaction among the generations.” The bottom line of this premise is that we ourselves in the aging network are helping perpetuate the “ageism” which we are fighting against! Henri believes that , “grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren–make up the whole of our life cycle visible and tangible to us at every moment of our lives…Therefore, caring for the aged asks for a life style in which the generations are brought into contact with each other in a creative and recreative way.” It makes sense and this happened naturally in past generations. The challenge is to recreate this environment where it doesn’t necessarily exist by creating programs to connect all of the generations. Do you know of any “best practices” that exist in your community to bring together the generations?
Henri advises us that compassion can grow in a poor heart, “because in a poor heart the pains of growing old can be recognized and shared. Compassion is the second most important characteristic of caring, since it allows us to overcome the fear of old strangers and invite them as guests into the center of our own intimacy.” He believes that the distinctions between young and old are “artificial” and that, “those who care and those who are cared for no longer have to relate to each other as the strong to the weak, but both can grow in their capacity to be human.” I particularly love his definition of compassion. “Compassion makes us see beauty in the midst of misery, hope in the center of pain. It makes us discover flowers between barbed wire and a soft spot on a frozen field. Compassion makes us notice the balding head and the decaying teeth, feel the weakening hand grip and the wrinkling skin, and sense the fading memories and slipping thoughts, not as a proof of the absurdity of life, but as a gentle reminder that ‘unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain, but if it dies it yields a right harvest.'” (John 12:24). I am beginning to realize the need to not only die in the flesh but to die intellectually and emotionally in able to embrace our inevitable human death. In order to do this we must connect to those among us who are closer to this inevitability or, we can continue to pretend that this event will not be part of our experience or can be delayed. I challenge you to follow the advice of Henri. Join and embrace the growth of aging. Is there anyone who wants to share their experience in working with the elderly. Please let us know if what Nouwen says is true.
This space is dedicated to sharing the Good News with one another as we journey Home.