Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Reflections on the Beginning of a New Era

From The Living Church-

This past June family and friends joined me in the celebration of my 83rd birthday. Normally, big birthdays come with a new decade: 60, 70, 80, 90, and even, in this day of medical wonders, 100. But for me 83 marked a big birthday. For various reasons, on this birthday, I realized that the life I had lived — as a priest of the Church, a missionary, a teacher of ethics, the dean of a seminary, and an author — had come to an end. At first, this realization made me resentful. But then it occurred to me that I was entering a new era filled with challenge but even more with promise.

This new era is certainly one of challenge. Old age is a period of decline — of physical and mental powers along with one’s social status. It is a period of life in which we are being stripped. Our professional life is behind us, our friends are dying off, and our society does not really know what to do with elderly people. There are no two ways about it! But this paring down brings with it the possibility of real blessings. Chief among them is unclaimed time — space in the passage of days, months, and years that is free of the business of life. As such, it can be used to assess one’s life, come to terms with things both done and left undone, and most of all make new beginnings. In short, the stripping of our lives can be viewed not as a loss but as a gift of grace that allows for the fashioning of a new form of life.

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