What we wrestle with is that final stage of life; and what I am invited to do with it. Growing older can be a spiritual exercise –a window onto God’s love and mercy.
All spirituality is a process, a process by which we identify ourselves within God’s plan for creation and the human family; it is a journey into the very heart of God.
Now, in the final stage of life, I am called to the deepest center of who I am, to make the journey, to undertake the quest.
Thomas Merton says: “We cannot become ourselves unless we know ourselves” No Man is an Island. He speaks of this journey or quest as “discovering myself in discovering God.”
The classical literature of the world is the story of the quest, the journey; from Homer’s Ulysses to Virgil’s Aeneas to Melville’s Ahab to Mark Twain’s Huck Finn. The protagonists in these great works undertake the quest; the search for a person, a value, riches, a mythical place. At the deepest level these stories and their heroes and heroines are about the search for meaning. All great works of literature are adventure stories – the fundamental adventure of life, the discovery of the true self.
Read the books you should have read in high school and college, or re-read them. They will come alive in a different way than they did before.
The reason I didn’t like those books or found them boring was that I was too young, with too little experience to understand and appreciate them.
What I discovered: retiring didn’t mark the end of the journey or quest. I have always been insistent that my life must make a difference, and that remains at the center of who I am. The quest goes on and the spirit is young and eager.
Fr. Steve Adrian