Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Grace In Aging

This is the name of a book that I am slowly reading and finding to be really helpful these days.

What it is saying in a nutshell is that  as we age our  slowing down and dismantling our work identity enables us to focus more and more on the inner life.  And that is when we can find peace and wisdom.

There is - within all of us - a hunger for awareness that is more than our own little lives but the activities of making a living can tamp down that desire and tell us that we don't have time for "naval gazing."  And the culture continues to promote the virtues of the "outer life" - job, appearance, material possession, financial security. And promote the myth not only that we can make it happen but keep it forever.  Which is all part of the  big lie.

As we get older, we can no longer deny the basic impermanence that is life.  Nothing stays the same.  Yesterday I went to a concert and watched beautiful Reagan play the Viola in the middle school orchestra.  I was with Marnie and Addie and at some moment I flashed on Marnie as a toddler and marveled that I have seen all these changes just in these people that I love.  Nothing stays the same and there is joy in change and sorrow.  There just is.

The grace in aging is seeing the impermanence and just accepting it.  Too much of life is trying to keep everything the same and clinging to our ideas of how it should be and our attachments.  Kathleen Singh writes:

"We double the suffering of a human life with our attachments and aversions, our lack of equanimity and our lack of wisdom about the way things actually exist.  We magnify it, we life in "suffering squared."

I read these words and I sort of get it- certainly it is easier to see in others than in myself.  One of the great learnings for me of these last few years is realizing that my mind cannot always be trusted.  My mind can be overactive and see only part of the picture of events. She writes - "The ego comes to be recognized, without a doubt, with no more denial, as an unreliable refuge."

Thoreau wrote this:

It is remarkable how easily and insensible we fall into 
a particular route, 
and make a beaten track for ourselves....
the surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men;
and so the paths with which the mind travels,
how worn and dusty, then must be the highways of the world,
how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!

Kathleen Singh writes about a "greater power that is frightening in its utter mystery."  The blessing of life - not just the one who are aging - but the life of every human being is hearing and responding to the  call to go deeper  into relationship with the Holy One.  For me at this time in my life, the words "Let Go" keep coming over and over again.

So I keep reading, keep having times of silence and solitude in my "sitting practice" I keep writing and find that slowly but surely the chaos clears and I begin to find grace and beauty in very ordinary moments of my life.

there is much we can do
to open ourselves to receiving His favors.
 - Saint Teresa of Avila

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