There's a relief and a newfound vastness to your inner world when the midlife years, or middling years as I call them, become the stage for spiritual transformation. Adjectives connected with midlife years, periods of our life marked by the dark night, or major life transitions would be: difficult, overwhelming, confusing, unpleasant. Packed within these seeds of darkness, however, is the radiance of spiritual transformation that can only come about through the pressure of those dark middle years.
"Middling years" may be the typical midlife experience, but they could also be the middle period between one job and another, one stage of life and another, a major life event and the return to normalcy, a change in relationships, expectations and responsibilities. They could even be a retreat.
The maturing person passes through many "middle years" in their life. This summer's retreat followed upon 12 months of such a transition in my own life. The pressure of various changes around me in my community, my ministry and my family became overwhelming and the day I stepped foot in our retreat house I breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Here, at last, I can find some peace and quiet to sort things out."
Jesus directly intervened in that first day with a startling image from the Gospel of Luke. He showed me the man with dropsy who stood before Jesus in the synagogue one Sabbath. I knew instantly that Jesus had diagnosed my spiritual illness. I had dropsy. Dropsy is a buildup of fluid in your tissues that can lead to heart failure and death. "And you, my child," I heard in my heart, "are in danger of heart failure. You are in danger of death. I am about to save you."
So much for peace and quiet! The next eight days, I underwent heart surgery under the action of the Divine Surgeon and Good Shepherd. Jesus brought up before me memories both recent and long past, faces of people in my life and relationships that were limping along at best, issues unresolved and problems that were incomprehensible.
During these transitional "middle years" of our life, whenever and however they may occur, even though they seem to last a long, very long time and overwhelm our capacities to the point that we feel unable to move forward ... something beautiful is happening.
The pain of what broke and confused me for the previous 12 months, sorted out by Jesus himself in my retreat, was actually a blessing that detached me from the desires and ideas that only supported my ego-self.
I had blamed the other for much of my angst, but I saw now that I was the one who had been living in a trance, living in a fantasy of my own making. I saw clearly that all of us are trying to survive and get what we think we need to be significant, or perfect, or happy.
Through the transition of our life, God leads us to enter into the inmost depth of our soul where we see something deeper than our own emotional reactions. St. Augustine described it this way, when he began to reflect upon himself. He says that he saw "with the eye of the soul, what was beyond the eye of the soul, beyond my spirit, your immutable light."
What relief to find out that truly our struggles in these middling and messy times of life are not really as self-identifying as we feel they are. These struggles, no matter how they come to us, apply pressure on the darker and more immature parts of our mind and heart so that our eyes may see with greater clarity the light of God's radiance within our soul.
In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander Thomas Merton described it as "le point vierge" or the virgin point at the center of our being that is the "point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal ... the pure glory of God in us." This God-spark, so to speak, has never been touched by our weakness and sin, or sins done against us that we may carry with such sorrow.
This opening and realignment of the heart, this new vision with the "eye of the soul," will give you a deep and utter stillness that begins with the gift of grace that washes away the ego's grasping and spills over into every level of your being. You will discover in time that deep anxiety and frustration will give way to choices that promote peace and reconnect with the energy of a free heart.
May you who are in the midst of middle years, whether this is the first time or the 10th, relax under the hands of the wise Master Surgeon as he transforms the darkness of your life into the radiance of his glory.
[Kathryn James Hermes, a Daughter of St. Paul, is the author of the best-selling bookSurviving Depression: A Catholic Approachas well as a number of other titles. She works with individuals online atpauline.org/heartwork, and her newsletter can be found atpauline.org/sisterkathryn.]
Read the original here:
- Spirits over spirituality? |India Today Insight - India Today - June 1st, 2020
- Spirituality - June 1st, 2020
- Vatican official: Racism is 'spiritual' virus that must be wiped out - Catholic News Service - June 1st, 2020
- Are you a good spiritual mother to your children and your loved ones? - Aleteia EN - June 1st, 2020
- Joan of Arcs spiritual life propelled her to martyrdom - Aleteia IT - June 1st, 2020
- Why, More Than Ever, We Need Nurses as Spiritual Comforters - CBN News - June 1st, 2020
- SOMETHING TO CONSIDER: We cultivate our spiritual life - Herald-Banner - June 1st, 2020
- LETTERS: Connecting spiritual communities important, but only in safe ways - Sentinel Colorado - June 1st, 2020
- ELDER: Dealing with the reality of an unseen spiritual realm - Rockdale Newton Citizen - June 1st, 2020
- Informative New Book Answers Important Questions Around Politics and Climate Change as Related to the Spiritual World - GlobeNewswire - June 1st, 2020
- Religious, spiritual services allowed to continue in person as Washington state counties reopen - KUOW News and Information - June 1st, 2020
- Religion and Spirituality Books Preview: June 2020 - Publishers Weekly - June 1st, 2020
- Tending to Your Spiritual Well-Being - KSRO - June 1st, 2020
- This is what were for: LAPD officers call in spiritual backup during pandemic - Angelus News - June 1st, 2020
- National Philoptochos Responds With A Multi-Pronged Approach to Provide Financial, Emotional, Spiritual and Loving Support to Individuals and Families... - June 1st, 2020
- While some try to politicize wearing face masks, for me it's a spiritual practice - Baptist News Global - June 1st, 2020
- Our view: BSA spiritual care team among local heroes on front lines of virus battle - Amarillo.com - June 1st, 2020
- On the spirituality of quarantine - The Christian Century - May 15th, 2020
- Motherhood and spirituality - The Catholic Sun - May 15th, 2020
- Eustace Was a Dragon All Along: Aslan and Spiritual Growth in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - tor.com - May 15th, 2020
- The spiritual modernist and iconoclast - Times of Malta - May 15th, 2020
- Fight and win the spiritual battle | Faith | frontiersman.com - Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman - May 15th, 2020
- Launch of Center for Spiritual Imagination hailed as 'exactly what is needed in these times' - Episcopal News Service - May 15th, 2020
- Spiritually Speaking: We all must do our part - Wicked Local - May 15th, 2020
- AMERICAN THEATRE | Tom Key: A Spiritual Connection - American Theatre - May 15th, 2020
- In It Together! 05/14 by Angel Talk Cafe | Spirituality - BlogTalkRadio - May 15th, 2020
- Army Chaplains Getting Creative in Helping Soldiers with Personal, Emotional and Spiritual Challenges - CBN News - May 15th, 2020
- Doctor's Orders: The value of purpose and spiritual health - Daily Herald - May 15th, 2020
- Wong Kar-Wais In the Mood for Love Spiritual Sequel Back on Track with New Filming Plans - IndieWire - May 15th, 2020
- Which qualities of Lord Hanuman should be in a Spiritual Master? - Times Now - May 15th, 2020
- What Is The Spiritual Meaning Of Angel Numbers 1010 - YourTango - May 15th, 2020
- Front-line workers receive 'spiritual' boost with blessing of the hands - Long Island Catholic - May 15th, 2020
- I provide spiritual care at a Seattle hospital. Here's what that means during the coronavirus pandemic - KUOW News and Information - May 15th, 2020
- The beauty of spiritual motherhood, according to John Paul II - Aleteia IT - May 15th, 2020
- Free Webinar: Spiritual Discovery: How you can better the world" - Patch.com - May 15th, 2020
- Just Call Me Pastor: Strengths of head, heart and hand - La Grande Observer - May 15th, 2020
- The spirituality of science - Economic Times - May 9th, 2020
- Pope warns against spiritual mafias that blind the soul to God - Crux: Covering all things Catholic - May 9th, 2020
- Spiritual Care at the Front Lines of the Pandemic - Sojourners - May 9th, 2020
- The Amazing Health Benefits of Spiritual Wellness - Lasentinel - May 9th, 2020
- Spiritual editorial: Jesus meets us wherever we are - NorthcentralPa.com - May 9th, 2020
- Spiritually speaking: The inherent power of humility | Religion - The Philadelphia Tribune - May 9th, 2020
- Our emotional, spiritual, financial and physical health depends on safely reopening Washington now - The Reflector - May 9th, 2020
- Abandoned but never forgotten Millmoor the spiritual home of the Millers - Yorkshire Post - May 9th, 2020
- Word of the Week: Yogi, a word for the spiritually wise - Hindustan Times - May 9th, 2020
- Spirituality at the core of sax greats sound - Mail and Guardian - May 3rd, 2020
- Coronavirus Is Good News for the Wellness Industry - VICE UK - May 3rd, 2020
- What does it mean to be spiritually blind? - Journal Review - May 3rd, 2020
- Hello, this is... podcast | Gaur Gopal Das on spirituality in times of a global pandemic - Moneycontrol.com - May 3rd, 2020
- Hello! This is... | Spirituality in times of a global pandemic - Moneycontrol.com - May 3rd, 2020
- Health and compassion for the mind and spirit - Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber - May 3rd, 2020
- In this episode, The Filter taps into the spiritual - Flatland - May 3rd, 2020
- Spirituality and Reading.. On The Hangout Hour - hcam.tv - May 3rd, 2020
- The Spiritual Treadmill - The Sunday Guardian - May 3rd, 2020
- Pentecostals and the spiritual war against coronavirus in Africa - The Conversation Africa - May 3rd, 2020
- With knowledge from past outbreaks, many Indigenous people return to traditional medicines - Winnipeg Free Press - May 3rd, 2020
- Plan ahead for how you will continue working on your spiritual life once the lockdown is lifted - Aleteia EN - May 3rd, 2020
- What spiritual retreats can teach us about the challenges of lockdown - The Conversation UK - May 3rd, 2020
- Building Spiritual Readiness in the Time of COVID-19 - United States Army - April 15th, 2020
- NCR readers share how they keep spiritually grounded, part three - National Catholic Reporter - April 15th, 2020
- Stay Safe by Practicing Religion and Spirituality from Home - Merrillfotonews - April 15th, 2020
- COVID-19 and the Spiritual Life | Dale M. Coulter - First Things - April 15th, 2020
- Spiritual Health Matters in the COVID-19 Crisis - MedicineNet - April 15th, 2020
- Chaplains and Spiritual Care in Hospitals During the Coronavirus Pandemic - The New Yorker - April 15th, 2020
- Special Report: Welcome to the New Age of Spiritual Luxury - Highsnobiety - April 15th, 2020
- Peace and Spirituality in Times of Fear and Gossip - RiverBender.com - April 15th, 2020
- Spiritual Well-Being, Your Connection With The Superior Force Of Our Universe - The Costa Rica News - April 15th, 2020
- Baptism works slowly and spirally - Global Sisters Report - April 15th, 2020
- SPIRIT MATTERS: The earth quaked, physically and spiritually - MyWebTimes.com - April 15th, 2020
- The Spiritual Person's Guide to Drinking Through the Coronavirus - Patheos - April 15th, 2020
- Salvation Army creates emotional and spiritual hotline during pandemic - KIMT 3 - April 15th, 2020
- WOSTER: Trying to replicate the spiritual blessings from afar - Rapid City Journal - April 15th, 2020
- A spiritual walk through Holy Week - The Oakland Press - April 15th, 2020
- BAVO, campus ministry host 'Trauma and Spirituality' discussion virtually - Observer Online - March 31st, 2020
- There's A Spirit In My Spirituality - Thrive Global - March 31st, 2020
- Spirituality and social distancing: Amsterdam church offers drive-up prayer - The Daily Gazette - March 31st, 2020
- A Spiritual Walk: Creating a new vision for our world is how we rise - Dearborn Press and Guide - March 31st, 2020
- Blood Drives and Online Religious Services: Spirituality in the Time of COVID-19 - WYSO - March 31st, 2020
- Epistles Of The EndTime, Part 3: Spiritual Sluggishness - Modern Ghana - March 31st, 2020
- Album Review: IGORRR Spirituality and Distortion - Metal Injection.net - March 31st, 2020