5 Learning for Midlife: 5 – Leave the door open into the unknown

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-yktye-c7ac0a

In our conversation today we explore the new energy that allows us to step back, reflect and create a vision of the rest of our life. Using St Teresa’s Four Ways of Watering a Garden we explore how prayer deepens during our middle years helping us to see our life with new eyes.

 

5 Learnings for Midlife: 4 – Expect grace and generosity of spirit…in yourself and others.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-mtpq5-c7a980

There is so much about our faith that centers on generosity, especially the abundance of love we receive from God unconditionally. We know fundamentally we are blessed. But even so, it takes some effort to cultivate our attention to finding—and keeping—a continued awareness of the presence of God in daily life. This awareness makes us more open to seeking God’s hope and his guidance for us in all things, from great and small wonders to the realities of the poor and vulnerable.

Using James Fowler’s stages of faith, we explore in our conversation practical ways to grow in generosity of spirit in our middle years.

Belief, hope, and the spirit of generosity come together to make people more effective. It’s not hard to figure out that the more people believe in what they’re doing, the more they have hope for the future. The more hope they have that tomorrow will be better than today, the more likely they are to be generous of spirit in all they do. The more generous they are, the more everyone around them is likely to believe in the greatness of the community. The more they believe, the better their lives will be.

 

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER… God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey.

You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com. Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST. Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise.

I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way. Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace. Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

5 Learnings for Midlife: 3 – To go forward we must stop looking back.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-dc7rc-c6ded3

Today is our third conversation about midlife learnings. In our conversation today Jeannette and I explore how the Holy Spirit knows that dream God had when he created us, that God still has for us, and that God will faithfully bring about in us. The Spirit knows how to pray best for this because the Spirit is always in harmony with God’s desires and ultimate will. We talk about how we can embrace these middle years so that we can stop looking back and keep walking forward into God’s beautiful dream for our lives.

 

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…
God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey. You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com.
Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST.
Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.
Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

Do not fear! No matter what happens, Christ reigns as King

In my pastoral struggles and weakness, the messy wandering and wonderings that are part of every life, I have found great power for perseverance by keeping before me the face of a man who said “no” to God when he learned of God’s plan for his middle years. When he found the bush burning in the desert, Moses learned that he was supposed to lead his chosen people to the Promised Land. But Moses didn’t see his life that way. His vision for his life was small as he stood before the burning bush. He herded sheep in the desert. That was enough. But God saw Moses in the larger story of salvation. He had a kingdom-plan for him.

In moments of struggle I remember Moses. In moments of crisis in church and world and community, I remember that I also am not living my life in safe isolation, but am a part of God’s Kingdom…called and loved and sent that God’s Kingdom may come…. I remember that despite his initial no to God’s plan, Moses became the person about whom God said, “I speak with Moses face to face as with a friend.” And I want that too!

I look to Moses because I’m able to survey his whole life, from the miraculous way he was set apart at his birth to the sad moment he stood on Mount Nebo looking into the Promised Land. Moses knew then he would never set foot there, despite his years of wandering the desert with a disgruntled people, people he’d defended and taught and cared for at great personal cost. I look to Moses because he discovered the ultimate plan for his life in the messy wanderings of his middle years.

Because of his rescue by Pharoah’s daughter, Moses spent his early years in the privilege of the Pharaoh’s household. He’d been saved from the death decreed for all male babies born to Hebrew women; his fate lay in the hands of God as he was set adrift in a humble basket watched over lovingly by his sister.

As a young man, he got himself in trouble by murdering an Egyptian who had struck one of the Hebrew slaves. He escaped to the desert and for forty years wandered there, serving his father-in-law as herdsman, until he encountered the burning bush that would set his life in a new direction.

When we’re young, we seek to find our vocation in life—the state to which we’re called and in which we will live out our destiny: married, ordained, religious, single. But the burning bush sets our life in a new direction, the ultimate direction for which we were created; and it often turns up only in our middle years, many times after disappointments and sorrows. As it did for Moses, it comes upon us, it chooses us, it calls us. Sometimes it calls through a sudden witness or moment; sometimes the call comes gradually over years of life. It comes as a surprise and is not of our making, although in hindsight it makes perfect sense and we feel that we could have seen it coming.

God’s dreams are greater than ours.

By this time, Moses may have been resigned to just being the shepherd in his father-in-law’s service. He certainly wasn’t eager to sign on to God’s great plan to send him back to Pharoah and demand the liberation of God’s people from slavery! Yet this was why he was born. This was his true vocation, to which every life-decision had mysteriously led. This was the goal from the very beginning, in the light of which every failure was still mysteriously a preparation. This was the larger meaning of his life into which his human spirit grew. God’s dream was greater than his for his own life.

Our plans and dreams and agendas for our own lives may be similarly small. We hunker down. We turn away from the challenge of greatness. We resign ourselves to our regrets. We plan carefully what is possible to us and draw the boundaries clearly so we will not be forced to walk beyond them. The past determined our possibilities.

God doesn’t see us in isolation. God knows us within his Kingdom, within his people, with his plan for the salvation of all creation. Our authentic vocation is ultimately known only in God, and it is always in reference to others who need us. The “others” may not be an entire people such as the Israelites who needed to escape slavery from Egypt. It may be one other person, a community, a family, a classroom, a hospital, the streets of a city. We may not even know who that other person is.

We are always called in view of the Kingdom.

“Thy Kingdom come!” we pray in the Our Father. “Maranatha!” we pray in Advent. “The Lord is King. He is robed in majesty!” we pray this Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King.

Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King in 1925 in the encyclical Quas primas (“In the first”) to response to growing secularism. He recognized that attempting to “thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law” out of public life would result in continuing discord among people and nations. That while governments crumble, we have the assurance that Christ the King shall reign forever. Today we do not face only the challenges of a secular society. The body of Christ must also tend to the wounds inflicted on the Church by priests and bishops, men who either committed acts of sexual abuse themselves or failed to respond to abuse with justice when they had the opportunity.

The Feast of Christ the King strengthens our hearts to believe that as governments come and go, as we struggle with the wounds we bear in the Church, Christ reigns as King of the entire world forever. And friends, you and I are important parts of the mosaic of that Kingdom that Christ is bringing about on this earth! Like Moses, we may have messed things up. Like Moses, we may wonder for years what our true place in the Kingdom is. Like Moses, we may be weighed down with the burden of our divinely assigned task. As it was for Moses, there will be ups and downs, joys and sorrows, ecstasies and depressions and disappointing moments. And like Moses, we might have even told God we didn’t think his plan was such a good idea, or we didn’t really want to be a part of it….

It doesn’t matter. That is all part of it. We need only pray, “Lord, show me where I fit into this plan of yours… that thy Kingdom come. Maranatha! Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King!” 

As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at his coming, those who belong to him.

Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power (1 Cor 15:22-24).

 

5 Learnings for Midlife: 2 – Be attentive to pockets of possibility.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-8qqm6-c6deb7

Today we’re having our second conversation on my “midlife learnings.” Be attentive to pockets of possibility. Jeannette de Beauvoir and I explore Daniel Levinson’s stages of adult development and how we can lean into possibility, lean into transformation.

All of our life we’re made so that we lean into possibilies. We have the ability to catch that moment, that spark, that pocket and have it guide us forward.

 

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…
God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey. You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com.
Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST.
Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.
Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

5 Learnings for Midlife: 1 – We have to get lost in order to find ourselves.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-s4avg-c6de29

Today we’re starting a series of five podcasts on my “midlife learnings.” The first one we take up today is about getting lost. These middle years can leave us feeling lost at times as we transition from who we have been to who we are to become…. Jeannette de Beauvoir and I take up this conversation of why it is important to get lost sometimes. “Being lost is challenging. Dante wrote about his traveler finding himself ‘in dark woods, the right way lost’ when he descended into the Inferno, and that’s what it can feel like, being in dark woods. You don’t know which way to take to get out. You don’t know what tomorrow will look like. You wish you had what you lost, even if it wasn’t good for you. You might even feel like God has abandoned you. But that’s when he’s closest. That’s when he’s saying, ‘Take my hand. Trust me. I love you. I’ll show you the way out.’ ”

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…
God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey. You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com.
Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST.
Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.
Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

The year I fell in love with death

When I was seventeen, I fell in love with death. Or rather, I fell in love with someone who had fallen in love with death. I was a pre-postulant in the Daughters of St Paul assigned to the typesetting department (in the days when publishing houses actually retyped manuscripts submitted by authors). The author was Hubert Van Zeller. It was in a footnote in one of his books that I read, “At the age of ten I fell in love with death.”

I was fascinated and have remained “friends” with Van Zeller all my life. And through him, friends with death.

So, as you can guess, November is one of my favorite months. I love the cold crisp air. The trees quickly turning from vibrant colors to faded browns and yellows and stray flaming oranges. The crunching sound as I walk through piles of dead leaves on street corners and the vision of stark and naked trees reaching up into the wintry sky. It is the month also in which we remember why we’re here, where we’re going, and those who have gone before us into eternity who still need our comfort and the compassion of our prayers.

Falling in love with death in my teens helped to set my intention to focus on arriving at my final and eternal destination prepared. But through the years that initial love affair with eternity has undergone quite a metamorphosis. In these past ten years as friends and sisters with whom I have lived have made the great leap of faith into the arms of the Father, the prospect of my own death has become more real. Tonight, when I put down the phone after speaking with my parents, I realized that one day I won’t be able to call them anymore. My body reminds me with its aches and pains that I am older than I was, and an internal alarm keeps reminding me regularly that time is running out. Each November now is also a reminder that one day I will die, I will have said my last word, done my last task, prayed my last prayer, said my last I love you, and I will gently let this life go to begin a new life that will be forever free and full of joy.

I am still in love with death. I don’t know if I have convinced you to take up this romance with eternity, but I pray that the natural aging process with its human fears and uncertainty and surprising sorrows will lose a bit of its edge. I think that God wants us to greet death with joy since Jesus himself has died and risen. In fact, for those who are baptized into Christ, there is no death. We have already died in his death and risen in his life. Life eternal is begun here and we will simply change rooms when we breathe our last. I realize, however, that doesn’t make it easy.

And what about the judgment, you may ask. And the punishment of purgatory and the fires of hell…. I’d like to share with you these paragraphs from Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Spe Salvi:

“Paul begins by saying that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ. This foundation endures. If we have stood firm on this foundation and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. Then Paul continues: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15). In this text, it is in any case evident that our salvation can take different forms, that some of what is built may be burned down, that in order to be saved we personally have to pass through “fire” so as to become fully open to receiving God and able to take our place at the table of the eternal marriage-feast.

“Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Savior. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God. In this way, the inter-relation between justice and grace also becomes clear: the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love. Indeed, it has already been burned away through Christ’s Passion. At the moment of judgment, we experience and we absorb the overwhelming power of his love over all the evil in the world and in ourselves. The pain of love becomes our salvation and our joy. It is clear that we cannot calculate the “duration” of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming “moment” of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart’s time, it is the time of “passage” to communion with God in the Body of Christ. The judgment of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgment and grace—that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless, grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or parakletos (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).”(nos. 46-47, Purgatory specifically mentioned in no. 45 )

As we pray for the souls of the faithful departed that they might rest in peace, we also pray for ourselves that we might live in hope, that we might go to meet Jesus in trust, that even now we might allow his love to “burn” away the dross that we might more purely love him and honor him all the days of our life.

ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…

God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 6 ways you can join me on the journey:

  1. Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST
  2. Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
  3. Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace. Enroll in the free 5-day email series introducing Reclaim Regret.
  4. Enroll in courses on Midlife, Contemplative Prayer, and a do-it-yourself downloadable Surviving Depression retreat
  5. Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

 

Stop looking in the rear-view mirror

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2n4ic-c2ac00

So I thought I’d start off with a biggie for a lot of people: the ghosts of the past. You know, the things we’ve done that we’re not proud of, the uncertainty about God really having forgiven us, the regrets we carry in our hearts for things that now cannot be undone, those nagging fears we keep pushing out of sight.

In other words we keep looking at the rearview mirror instead of through the windshield, straight ahead as we travel on our journey through life to our ultimate goal: heaven.

But it’s hard not to. Right? Those ghosts of the past have consequences that we may still feel and which impact our life. Sometimes they may feel like they have the ultimate power over us of eternal life or death. It’s those regrets, particularly, that we really don’t want to have to look at.

What I want to raise to your awareness here is this: We’ve listened to these thoughts in our heads maybe a whole life long. We forget they are just thoughts we’re used to thinking, we’re comfortable with. However, we’ve also heard the words of Scripture proclaimed, powerful words….

It’s time to take these thoughts in our head directly to Jesus.

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…
God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey. You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com.
Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST.
Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.
Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

A book that shows me who Jesus is

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ia9en-c2abe7

The bestselling spiritual testament He and I reveals the words of Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis, a single woman, nurse, and, in her later years, playwright, who lived in France in the early twentieth century. Bossis documented her “simple talks” with Jesus in her journals, intimate conversations with Jesus that were real and personal. After her death these journals were made public.

The first time I flipped through the pages of the bestselling spiritual testament He and I, I was flabbergasted. He and I is the journal of Gabrielle Bossis, a French laywoman who lived in the first half of the twentieth century. In this book, Gabrielle documents her “simple talks” with Jesus, intimate conversations with Jesus that were real and personal. The great historian Daniel Rops wrote in his preface to the original French edition: “…here we breath the sweet fragrance of Christ.”

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…
God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey. You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com.


Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST

Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.


Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.


Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

How not to become the elder brother

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-s6sjs-c2abda

A reflection on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Three characters dominate the parable of the Prodigal Son, sometimes called the Parable of the Loving Father. And we—you and I—at different points of our life, are all three.

Perhaps in our younger years, and definitely in our unrepentant phases of life, we can identify with the younger son…the humiliated sorrow and long journey home begging for mercy and forgiveness. And the experience of absolute love from another or from our heavenly Father, unconditional compassion and forgiveness.

But there are other times when we find ourselves, much to our sorrow, in the shoes of the elder son. To me, to be in this angry, narrow-minded, self-serving son’s shadow, even if only in the obsessing thoughts that pester me like flies, is worse.

John Ortberg states so accurately: “One of the hardest things in the world is to stop being the prodigal son without turning into the elder brother.”

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…
God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey. You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com.


Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST.


Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.


Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.


Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you
can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.