Aging and Spirituality....

Aging and Spirituality

There are many and varied definitions of the term "Spirituality". There are just as many interpretations of the meaning.

Aging and Spirituality: How about this one;"Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence."Anthony de Mello(1931-1987) Jesuit Priest and Philosopher.

Now this is a different slant on the definition of spirituality. Would you expect a priest to define spirituality without even once mentioning God or Religion? I think I may just have woken up in time.!!

Aging and Spirituality: Waking up and spirituality seem to fit nicely together. If you mention spirituality, it always seem to suggest religion. We seem to take it for granted that they are one and the same.

Spirituality to me is a very personal thing and religion is merely a system or template to help organize it.

Anthony De Mello also tells the story of the man who knocks on his son's door; "James," he says, "wake up!" James answers, "I don't want to get up, Dad".

The father shouts, "Get up, you have to go to school." James says, "I don't want to go to school." "Why not?" asks the father. "Three reasons Dad," says James. First, because it's so dull; second, the kids tease me all the time; and third, I hate school.

And the father says, "Well, I am going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it is your duty; second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you are the headmaster."!!

That story, as unlikely as it is, could easily be a metaphor for our own lives. It gives us some indication how we can let life go past spiritually by being put to sleep by the hypnotic influences of boredom, peer pressure and stress.

Aging and Spirituality: What opportunities do this circumstance present to us?

As we get older, we get the opportunity, if we take it, to wake up and take a look at who we really are spiritually, see how long we have slept and how we relate to this beautiful and exciting business of human existence.

Aging and Spirituality: What kind of positivity can we add to these natural cycles of life?

We may find that we have slept for a lot longer than we would like to admit.

We may realize that we are still carrying around old beliefs that we picked up in our early childhood and those beliefs are still affecting our behavior today.

We do tend to carry our childhood into the rest of our life without questioning the validity of our beliefs.Should we still react to situations in the same way when we are fifty as we did when we were ten?. Have a think about that... we often do (take outdated beliefs into adulthood).

We cannot deal with these beliefs while we are asleep.

Only very recently I was introduced to the fact that I had to start using a wheelchair to assist a member of my family. This became a very sobering situation when I realised that this was permanent.

However, I did not have to go to church to be awakened to a spiritual side of this reality. In the shopping centre car park, at the beach, in the middle of a bustling mall... I am constantly being approached by people of all ages offering me help.

They want to help to push the wheelchair up an incline or to help put it into, or get it out of the car. None of these people wear clerical garb. It really did surprise me, and greatly helped me to deal with the emotional side of this (now new) reality. However, one friend did say to me (sceptically) though; "they're probably intending to mug you"! Well, my recent experience completely contradicts that way of thinking. People DO want to help other people.

... Aging and Spirituality: Is there a place for cynicism within aging and spirituality, or is it just a part of the whole deal? Not sure?

I was born into a spiritual family environment. Although we were not wealthy, we never wanted for anything. Being one of eleven children taught me a lot about human existence and it gave me awareness, life skills and spiritual values that have served me well throughout my life.

I have no idea who said this but I heard it somewhere and it rang so very true;"Our childhood is never history, it is always with us".

By the way,I would not like to leave you thinking of this great subject without reminding you and (also) myself that we can sometimes take life just a little bit too seriously!

As it does in life, humour can play a large part in our understanding of aging and spirituality, especially when you can mention religion, hope and the inevitable, all at the same time.

I would now like to leave you with a special Irish Blessing to give your life a spiritual lift; "May You Have Food And Raiment, A Soft Pillow For Your Head, May You Be Forty Years In Heaven Before The Devil Knows You're Dead"

Aging and Spirituality: "Keep Your Spirits Up... It Might Never Happen"!

Joe Brennan - Aging Positivist

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