Fall has always been my favorite time of the year; the season for reflection, gratitude, gathering, giving, and symbolic rebirth. It also brings with it my birthday (in the House of Libra) – which lately has inspired even greater reflection.
“Old age, as such, is almost a complete changing of gears and engines from the first half of our lives, and does not happen without many slow realizations, inner calmings, lots of inner resistance and denials, and eventual surrenders. All of them by God’s grace work with our ever-deepening sense of what we really desire and who we really are.” —Richard Rohr (9-18-22)
I love divine timing! The week prior to my birthday, the theme for Richard Rohr’s daily meditations was “Ripening with Age,” which was in perfect alignment with my lesson topic this week, “Birthday Reflections: Exhaling and Spiritual Maturity.”
Rohr explains, “ripening at its best, is a slow, patient learning, and sometimes even a happy letting go—a seeming emptying out to create readiness for a new kind of fullness—which we are never sure about.”
In other words, “ripening” is spiritual maturing – moving beyond any exclusive concern with physical aging – to instead embrace aging as not only inevitable, but “part of the necessary school of life…” that emphasizes “an increasing tolerance of ambiguity, a growing sense of subtlety, an ever-larger ability to include and allow, and a capacity to live with contradictions and even to love them!”
In other words, spiritual maturity, or “ripening,” is learning to exhale – to accept what is, to graciously release what will inevitably be taken away, and with trustful faith, embody the wisdom, love, compassion and fearlessness that will bless ourselves and the world.
“There is no more noble way to spend these years than to become an elder, to bear witness to the world as placeholders for peace, love, wisdom, and fearlessness.”—Kathleen Dowling Singh