“Yahweh said to Abraham: “Leave your country, your kindred and your father’s house for a country that I will show you; I shall make you a great nation.”Gn 12, 1-3
Our mid-life spiritual journey is comparable to Abraham's call to migration experience. Our mid-life spiritual journey involves you and me in a journey of significant spiritual and psychological change of direction: from an externally oriented world to an internally oriented one." It's a journey calling for resilience, for hope and for patience. As we meditate the journey of Abraham, I will guide you in a better understanding of what this call implies in your life.
In the home page of this website, I've introduced mid-life using the analogy of the mid-lifer spending 35 years or
more, climbing stairs to reach the top of a building, to discover once arrived that the destination, was to be the wrong one, and that we are under the impression that all our life's effort in journey was"Futility sheer futility, everything is futile...". Eccl. 1 2:18"
Abraham is 75 years old; he has been raised in the cultural (πολυθεοσις - politheosis) - greek word meaning faith in the existence of more than one gods and practicing this faith's respective rituals to obtain the gods'blessings and favour. Ex.: Isaac's sacrifice offer, Yahweh tests Abraham's sense of commitment and faith and He uses this opportunity to educate him about better cultual rituals. Yahweh wants no more human sacrifices and provides Abraham with an animal for the ritual.
We can picture Abraham in his struggles searching for meaning to this new life, abiding to these new valuesand letting go the old ones as a useless map... not to mention his concerns. God makes him a promise at an old age...
his wife Sarah is barren – he has no child to inherit neither his name nor riches. I suspect his anxiety of the unknown… How can this work out?
From settlement to migration… A beginning of renewal…
A complete transformation… a revelation… “Leave your country, your kindred and your father’s house for a country that I will show you; I shall make of you a great nation…”
It’s a journey of faith…it’s an adventure… migrating in the deserts,(desert is also a metaphoric image for interiority or inner spiritual journey) confronting many enemies, the famine… the unknown of Egypt... He only has his faith in God and in His promise for guidance. “I will make of you the father of a great nation…” No matter the humanly impossible life circumstances: his age, Sarah’s barren condition and age… Abraham trusts the word of God fully aware of his divinity and mightyness.
His trust increases as he learns to know Him. His challenges,
and temptations, his hopes, his doubts...The life of Abraham is in a sense the illustration of our own journey.
Our mid-life journey is comparable to Abraham’s migration experience, in a sense that in our quest for truth and harmony, the answers are not given to us all wrapped-up as a gift, we must search for them.
All the doubts and reconsiderations we might experience during the mid-life spiritual journey – our migration into the darkness through psychological, social, interpersonal relationship concerns etc…or fear of change and the unknown are not only normal… but part of the journey.
Spiritual journey develops through stages just like we do so psychologically and physically. This is necessary for instigating balance or personal harmony. Unfortunately, we have not been educated very much about this.
Ex.: Have you any possible doubts you might have about certain principles and values always nourished until now…values and principles you hesitate to let go for fear of betrayal? (What you’ve learned as a child
from teachers and parents) where adapted to your childhood stage of life and presented to you in principles for you to obey and to respect; your intelligence was not fully trained to fully
understand what could be good for you or not.
As you reached the adulthood stage of spritual journey, not only do you discern and chose the values that helps you to grow and instigate meaning to your life.
You re-evaluate those values and discern whether they help you become a better and wiser person, whether they are a guide for your life and the outer expression of your own relationship with the All Mighty. The rituals you celebrate now have a much deeper meaning. You don't practice them out of obedience, instinctively, or out of fear for punishment. On the contrary, you practice out of love and these values become part of you. You understand the profound riches and beauty involved in them.
From the stage of child obedience to the stage of loving and meaningful commitment there's a whole journey involved - a journey that very few as successfully overcome.
This is the case involving the 1960 quiet revolution. The Baby-boomer generation, reaching adulthood, chose to disrecard faith and anything that had to do with spiritual journey. Rather than discerning and opting for the riches of their faith.
Changes needed to happen and we have seen some positive outcome. Unfortunately, and this is the sad part, their opting out against faith, going as far as disrespecting God's behavioural guidelines, as now reached the opposite extreme - with devastating consequences. Almost two generations have been poorly spiritually educated if not educated at all and we sense them erring, desperately searching for profound meaning to life.( explaining the high rise in suicide not only during mid-life but also in youth.
We worship humanity and its deads rather than God; the negative outcome of this is a world of egocentrism and selfishness. Our lack of gratitude sometimes overlaps on others negatively, going as far as treating others like victims. The increase of violence is an example. We also go as far as react as though the world is our possession and we create rivalries and oppressions. How long can we continue living like this? We are all part of this mess!
It's the stage of spiritual adolescence...the independance, the inability to real commitment, these are old values and principles, people say! It's not cool, the human errors or human scandals of community representatives...disbeliefs, truth to hard to acknowledge and to accept, to demanding are but a few out of many rational reasons...
This is where the mid-life spirituality journey can become a very difficult challenge for many of us...There might be a need for reconciliation, for forgiveness, for humility... Can you begin to understand why for so many people,in our day-and-age society, the journey out of of the mid-life
crisis is almost an impossible journey?
“Faith is the consciousness of God or divine, as loving and caring towards us. This consciousness includes trusting without hesitation or reserve.” Jesus Today - A Spirituality of Radical Freedom.” P. 87-88 Such faith moves mountains and miracles do happen. We know that God will do what’s best – which may not be what you or I want. We trust in Him because He sees the big picture. In our post-modern days…when someone isn’t healed… if our prayer of request is not immediately answered as expected, we either blame God or we get discouraged…
Carl Jung, psychologist, used to say:
“It is in the deeper part of us, that a person goes when there is great work that needs to be done. Mid-life involves a significant spiritual and psychological change in the direction: from an externally oriented world to an internally oriented one.”
We have mentioned a few mid-life images: cocoon, desert, tunnel, black hole, seeds in the soil, roots of trees, diving into the deep oceanic water, from caterpillar to butterfly… You may recognize your image best illustrating your mid-life journey.
I am fully aware that what you've just read here, can be a big loaf of bread to swallow. I never said that the journey through mid-life was an easy journey. A lot of soul searching involved here...soul searching that requires aknowledgement in all humility. What I mention to you, I mention it for myself just as well...
we all need to journey further and deeper.
This is not attempt of reproach or to condemn anyone...
It's not the purpose...it's a wake-up call in our struggling society. Together, we can build a better society,
we can change the world one heart at a time...
The following questions are inspired from the book:
Dear Heart Come Home–The Path of Midlife Spirituality by Joyce Rupp, chapter 1 p.35-36).
Identify and describe the mid-life images rising from within you.
What are the changes you sense need to happen in your life at this present time?
Are you ready to face the truth hidden within you for so long? (remove your masks)
The shadow represents the repressed emotional values, feelings, experiences etc… As they rise up one by one in your life; (sometimes under symbolic images in dreams or unexpected feelings) are you able to pay attention to them and to reclaim them?
“…this beckoning to wholeness, the discovery and acceptance of the missing pieces within one’s self Carl Jung identifies this as the stage of individuation. It also implies accepting the dying that goes with the discovery. Our, ego, that part of us that is conscious and thinks it knows everything, has either to relinquish some of its supposed truth (illusions), or to give way to a much larger picture of what truth is.”
Go back to your roots. In your daily journal, write down what are to be your beliefs and assumptions that were the foundation of your life before reaching this period of mid-life.
Look at them from your mid-life perspective. Which one do you discard, which one would you rearrange?
What are the new beliefs that are developing?
I would like to conclude with this meditation from Henry Gariepy in his book Daily Meditations – on Golden Texts of the Bible (p.47) as he presents the recipe of renewal.
“In virtually every area of life we may confront the need for restoration and renewal. Busyness or neglect takes its toll, relationships become broken, zeal grows cold, we yearn for a fresh and closer walk with God… a recipe for restoration and renewal, both personal and corporate, reminding us that devotion to God is our first priority. Then, we too may take courage and find that the hand of the Lord is upon us.”