When we are born, we know everything that we need to know in the moment. The first thing that we know is that we have completed our first great transition, from the womb to the world. That in and of itself is no small matter, but regardless, here we are.
We grow into toddlers and on to teenagers and then into the years of adulthood. Each being a transitional period in our lives. Yet, when we reach our middle years, or as Carl Jung described as The Afternoon of Our Lives. This is the time when we start to turn our thoughts inward.
- Is there a greater purpose for my life?
- Where has my passion gone?
- Did I miss out on something extraordinary in my life?
- How much time do I really have left, and will it be enough?
- Where does faith fit in my life, and what is it that I truly believe?
I was about forty years old when these questions started to raise themselves in my life. I didn't just wake up on the day of my fortieth birthday and decide to question the un-knowables of life. The process just seemed to sneak up on me, and I honestly thought that I was losing my mind. Everything I knew seemed to be turning upside down.
When my youngest child graduated high school, and I was faced with an empty-nest, I recognized that something had shifted in my world. There were no more hordes of teenage girls giggling and talking about boys and all the things their hearts longed for in the world. There were no more tears to be dried over skinned knees and broken hearts. There was nothing but the silence of the apartment and me.
My job had brought so much joy and satisfaction into my life. However, I found myself wondering if there was something more out there. Had I missed out on my big chance? I had always wanted to be an author, since the time I was a teenager. I loved to write, but as life happened the dream had been cast aside for diapers and bottles, school recitals and work. Eventually, my job became nothing more than a paycheck, and the spark of passion dwindled to a smoldering ember. I retired from nonprofit at 45 years old. I couldn't do it anymore. I felt as though I had nothing left to give.
Which led me to the age old question, of how much time do I have, and will it be enough? My heart has turned to my family and friends, and still I wonder - will I and have I been enough? Have I given them everything they will need to survive without me? Do they know how much I love them? The logical answer to all of these questions is "yes", but the questions are there. They might always be there. I think that it would be more concerning if they weren't. I wonder if I will have enough time to do and see all the things I have put off until tomorrow. Are there enough years left in me to achieve the purpose for which I was born?
In the silence of the night, I wondered about faith. I found myself in a spiritual crisis that led to the realization that I was spiritually bankrupt, with nothing left to deposit. I found myself in the wilderness - lost and alone. It was a journey that has led me to a place of inner-peace and being centered that I cherish, and will cherish for all my days.
I invite you to walk this afternoon path with me. It is a journey of self-discovery, where in the end, we will arrive in the very place in which we all began, that moment when we completed our first great transition - focused solely on the moment. Being fully present and fulfilled.