Archive for September 26th, 2009

My two children are of college and post-graduate ages, respectively. It is a time of transitions for them, and most definitely for me and my wife.

We have less and less time  with them, and we’ve come to that inevitable empty nest. We are confronting the challenge of shifting focus from the clear, long-term priority on the children, to rediscovering each other; a bitter-sweet chapter. 

There is nothing unusual about this moment. Many have commented on it, and written about it, and all parents throughout history had to go through it and learn to let go. But, you see, it’s our first time.

I find myself especially pensive about it now as my son plans to leave for a year abroad: a young man who will do much, and of whom I am inestimably proud. He has become someone with whom I have shared many wonderful energetic conversations about politics, religion, economics, movies, philosophy, and countless other things. This special connection, face to face, and usually many times per week, will no longer be as it has been, though we will do our best to stay in close touch by Skype and cellphone.

My daughter is now a college sophomore and a young woman with professional aspirations to be a healer. She demonstrates natural empathy, warmth, caring, and insight ample enough to do that  with uncommon competence. She is increasingly giving very sound advice to us and her friends and colleagues. We miss her being home with us and yet are, of course, both very proud and excited about the journey of discovery that she has begun and shares with us when we talk.

For us, the children are now learning to live on their own, as they should, and we  need to relearn ourselves what that means. So having said all this, what does this change really mean spiritually?

There is a contemplative practice inherent in this moment. Mindful that everything contributes to our enlightenment, I jot down this morning some thoughts on what I see as the spiritual sub-plot at work in all this.

1. Jesus said: “Be passers-by.” (The Gospel of Thomas) – Life presents a series of threshold experiences divided by periods of relative continuities, and we find ourselves quite naturally less willing to let go of the shores we’ve visited. We prepare as we must for the less certain waters ahead.

It is when we are on the verge of change, that we come to realize our attachments, and the depth of our need to control and own. As our children grow to adulthood, we want reassurance  that we are still needed and necessary to their lives. We experience a fear born of being forced to acknowledge the truth of life’s incessant and necessary movement forward.

2. We must replace our wish to perpetuate one kind of relationship for another rooted more deeply in authentic “agape”; a love that finds peace in blessing our children as they take to sea no longer in our ships but in their own.

3. We remember the ageless quality of mature, abiding, and imperturbable loving as we surrender to the Divine Beloved and the natural march of life (including the physical indignities and the special virtues of getting older).

The inherent spiritual practice is “standing on the verge”.

Reflecting on the earlier transitions in our lives, we begin to see our story as spiritual autobiography. We examine the “tracks in the snow” of our walk through time. In reliving earlier threshold moments and in embarking on a new one, we are given a precious opportunity to take our sense of self to a higher level of awakening before we again settle into a new rhythm.

In transits from one state of mind to the next, we are ever so briefly “unfrozen” from the frames and expectations of history. For a time, we are vigilant and deeply grateful for what we’ve been given.

Consider your transitions and what they’ve taught you. What verges are you approaching and to what special knowledge are they inviting you?

Regardless of our age, our souls progress toward the Divine Light, just as a smaller object is drawn by the gravitational influence of one much larger.

Our life’s fleeting transit through space-time is an invitation to a grand cosmic dance of Mystery, Unfathomable Intimacy, and Revelation.


© The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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