It’s not easy, especially when we’re young, to make peace with the fires inside us.
Ron Rolheiser, OMI
SPIRITUALITY AND THE SECOND HALF OF LIFE
The good news is that, generally, we do get there. In mid-life, perhaps only in late mid-life, we achieve something the mystics call “Proficiency”, a state wherein we have achieved an essential maturity – basic peace, a sexuality integrated enough to let us sleep at night and keep commitments during the day, a sense of self-worth, and an essential unselfishness. We’ve found our way home.
Where do we go from home? To an eternal home with God. The spiritual task of the second half of life is to shed many of the things that we legitimately acquired and attached ourselves to during the first half of life. From what do we need to detach ourselves?
First, and most importantly, from our wounds and anger. The foremost spiritual task is to forgive – others, ourselves, life, God. We all arrive at mid-life wounded and not having had exactly the life of which we dreamed. There’s a disappointment and anger inside every one of us and unless we find it in ourselves to forgive, we will die bitter, unready for the heavenly banquet.
Second, we need to detach ourselves from the need to possess, to achieve, and to be the centre of attention. The task of the second half of life is to become the quiet, blessing grandparent who no longer needs to be the centre of attention but is happy simply watching the young grow and enjoy themselves.
Third, we need to learn how to say good-bye to the earth and our loved ones so that, just as in the strength of our youth we once gave our lives for those we love, we can now give our deaths to them too, as a final gift.
Fourth, we need to let go of sophistication to become simple “holy old fools” whose only message is that God loves us.
Finally, we need, more and more, to immerse ourselves in the language of silence, the language of heaven. Meister Eckhard once said: “Nothing so much resembles God as silence.” The task of mid-life is to begin to understand that and enter that language.