Sometimes an unexpected and spontaneous “initiation” to the next stage of life looks…well…pretty ugly. Particularly when that’s not the name you are able to give it in the moment. Nevertheless, take time to breathe, grieve, pause, allow, and be curious. It’s possible that that another part of the you that seeks to be known and loved, is struggling to arrive. Make space for it.
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction. CYNTHIA OCCELLI
A sacred illness is one that educates us and alters us from the inside out, provides experiences and knowledge that we could not possible achieve in any other way. DEENA METZGER
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive. HOWARD THURMAN
During your third chapter years, or at any time that these questions resonate with you: What do you need to learn? What do you wish to let go of? What makes you come most alive? And, will you dare to explore that?
Death is not the enemy; let contemplating our mortality focus our choices about how we spend our remaining days.
On a slow day of a winter storm, I sent out my occasional “musings” newsletter to friends and family and interested others. Now 77, I find myself increasingly playing with elements of my own aging journey and commenting on it. In that February “musing”, I invited folks to pay attention to the losings and the losses that occur as we age. I suggested considering them a “part of initiation” that helps us contemplate the new age stage we enter.
While I sometimes worry that folks will be discouraged about later life, as opposed to considering the invitation to reflect and choose among all kinds of possibilities for the future, I am pleased when I receive affirmation. I was delighted by this response from my 66-year old friend, Lynda Overlock.
Martha, thank you so much for your latest “musing”. I always knew that more friends and associates would pass away when I reached this age…but I was unprepared to lose 14 in the past 12 weeks! Those deaths brought into sharper focus what we’ve been exploring, since some had good deaths, while others did not have people around them to ease their transition.
I’ve redoubled my efforts to complete some paperwork, make my wishes known to ALL my family (not just immediate), and I’ve given my pastor a copy of my end-of-life directives.
Personally, I’m continuing to weave baskets, and have joined a study group that’s reading Jim Wallis’ America’s Original Sin, that deals with social justice issues. I’ve been substitute teaching, but limit it to one or two days per month. I still tutor on Wed. afternoons at the library. So I’m keeping busy. (end of note)
I thank Lynda. It warms my heart to remember the days we spent in our open discussions at the senior center during 2014-15. How much those conversations seem to help all of us focus on the variety of issues that require our attention in later life..the living fully, the graceful aging, and the dying well.
Beware of rushing into the “new” too fast. Resolutions, intentions, bucket lists can wait a bit. Although December is the ostensible “ending” month of our annual cycle, and January the generally accepted “beginning,” dare to take your time. December inaugurates winter, time to hibernate and contemplate and savor our experiences of 2016. Pause to honor the past 12 months and allow clarity about what’s really calling to you for the next several years to emerge slowly.
1.Take time for Review and Reflection
- In 2016, what has pleased you? Accomplishments? Breakthroughs? Courageous experiments? The way you handled challenges?
- What have been your disappointments? Losses? Endings? The challenges you didn’t handle so well?
- What have been your lessons? Your hopes? Your dreams?
2. Take time to go deeper