Spirituality comes to the fore in our middle years. Who am I now? Who is God now? Has my image of God changed? If we look at the lives of the saints (some of them may be the people in your life) we notice their struggles too. Both Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola had military lives that failed. Both had long periods of recuperation that led them to completely different lives. St. Paul needed time apart after his conversion (three years) to understand God’s call. Feminine models include Julian of Norwich, Clare of Assisi, Florence Nightingale and many others. These are dramatic examples but in each of their lives is the example of something changing, the need to determine how to go forward but not knowing for what purpose and the time needed to figure it out. Prayer was vital to that process for each of them.
I’m not Francis of Assisi or Julian so how can I work through my midlife challenges and issues? Ignatian spirituality asserts that God wants to be your guide. God planted desire in your heart before you were born and you need to refresh your memory of that desire. You can do that through observing what in your life gives you joy and peace – called consolations in Ignatian terms. Practice noticing how God is calling you daily to more freedom and peace. Notice also the things, thoughts, behavior that take you away from God’s presence called desolations that are equally important in charting your journey forward. And while there is much more, the fundamental thing is to notice what gives you life and what drains it. Sharing this with God daily is key to moving into greater freedom to be who you really are. Midlife is an expansive time, rather than constrictive, spiritually. It is a call to refresh!
Barbara Leonard, Spiritual Director at Loyola Spirituality Center
Join Us- Coming Home
Beginning Thursday, February 18, Spiritual Director, Karen Treat and I will be beginning four weekly gatherings to reflect on the spiritual journey in the middle years and beyond. It will be a time to reflect this beautiful time in life and begin the process of what it means to come home to ourselves. And, God. https://loyolaspiritualitycenter.org/programs/coming-home-2nd-half-of-life/
Here are two authors that we recommend for further reading:
Rupp, Joyce (1996) Dear Heart Come Home: The Path of Midlife Spirituality. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company. Rohr, Richard (2011) Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. San Francisco, California: Josey-Bass.