“We come in to the world naked and alone, “ as the saying goes, “and we leave it the same way.” It’s what we do in the middle that is telling.
Most of us accumulate possessions and perhaps wealth. “What I have is what I am!”, we shout. We believe that we are “graded” on the address of our home, the nameplate on our car, the church we belong to, the school our children attend, and our bank account. Then, for some of us, we come to a magical moment when we realize that perhaps we have enough and that we could stop stockpiling the material goods. Or we don’t have an option because we have lost our job or ability or desire to acquire more. What do we do? How do we respond?
When we realize that none of the things we were being “graded” on in our earlier life really matters the door is opened and we are on the precipice of our journey in to aging intentionally. Our life is about to change!
If we are courageous enough to step in to this opening we start to review our accumulated lives and seek other answers about what is meaningful. We loosen our grip on material possessions and spend time finding our own answers to questions like, “Who am I?”; “Where am I going?”; and “Who do I want to accompany me?”
Harry Moody says that this is the moment when we recognize the importance of developing the “Soul”. Where shaping the soul occupies our interest and becomes life’s priority. What did I learn along the way? How did I serve others? Am I open to life? These are the dominant questions of this time of life and the ones we really want to be “graded” on...but graded by our own knowing not others.
Sister Joan Chittister says it better than I, “We have a chance to become what all the living has enabled us to be. Now we can make sense of it. But only if we can let go of the past. Only if we can let go of all the old ideas of success, all the old marks of humanity and finally, now, allow ourselves to become simply human instead.” (The Gift of Years)