“Diminishment is no longer the principal characteristic of aging. On the contrary, we are now developing in ways that only a short time ago would have been considered impossible for anyone over the age of forty.”(Joan Chittister)
“Old age is no longer a custodial care proposition. Grandma does not ‘live in’ anymore. She is far more likely to live alone, in her own home or apartment, drive a car into her eighties, and volunteer at the local library.
“Diminishment is not what we’re about — either in terms of numbers or of age.
“We eat better, live with less chance of physical disability, have sight and hearing aids, and participate in all levels of society for years. Not only are we the healthiest population of oldsters modern history has known, but we are the most active as well. And these trends are not just found in the industrial nations. As standards of living increase everywhere, so does the aging population of each region.”But longevity is not the only indicator of the essential changes of age. Now we know that the brain, too — once thought to be irretrievably doomed to progressive senility as the years went by — continues to develop in new ways. It not only goes on producing new cells, but it also develops new ways of thinking.
“These findings may confound younger generations who have been taught to fear their own old age, bur they place a new kind of responsibility, a new way of looking at the world on older people, too. There is no excuse now for simply dropping out of life. As long as we breathe we have a responsibility for the cocreation of the world, for the good of the human race.”The blessing of a commitment to accomplishment is that, as we continue to bring our considerable skills, experience, and insight to bear on the present needs of humankind, we will certainly become wiser, definitely spiritually stronger, and more than ever a blessing to the rest of society.”
“It [contemplation] is a deeply revolutionary matter.” 1
It “describes the most subtly significant thing that can happen ….. before death and through death.” 21 Rowan Williams
2 Martin Laird
“Contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world that other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.”
(Archbishop Rowan Williams, Address to the Synod of Bishops in Rome, October 12, 2012.)
“Every bit of progress (in contemplative prayer) means an enormous benefit for us and for everybody else in the human race. To be on this journey is really the greatest contribution one can make to the human family. This journey does not just involve what happens in prayer, rather, what happens in prayer enables us to live daily life as a continuation of the purification process. The ups and downs of daily life, including its everydayness are the arena in which the Christian journey takes place. God is in solidarity with our lives and deaths just as they are. Perfection does not consist in feeling perfect or being perfect, but in doing what we are supposed to do without noticing it: loving people without taking any credit. Just doing it.”
(“Intimacy” Thomas Keating p63-64)
“If we learn to die well we can embrace life more freely and fully. So we need to develop a consciousness of life that includes letting go; death – not as a finality – but as a transformative process. ………In an evolutionary universe, nothing is complete which means God is still creating; the Spirit is creating anew and we are part of this new creation that is taking place in our midst.”
The word “evolution” comes from the Latin evolvere meaning “to unfold.” To say life unfolds means change is part of nature; we are on the move. The universe we are a part of has a long history and an infinite future; it is expanding. There are no fixed rules in nature; rather, there are operative principles and patterns that enable nature to sustain itself and for life to flourish. Nature is malleable and can do new things; there is novelty in nature. Given sufficient time and the right conditions, new things will form. There is no “above” or “below” earth, there is rather the planet earth which is part of the Milky Way galaxy which is part of other galaxies which are part of a cosmos or whole.
Where is God in this world view? From a Christian perspective, we know God to be within, the empowering center of every element of life. In the Incarnation God assumes materiality. God enters into that which is not God and, through the rise of consciousness, one becomes aware of the presence of God. Jesus symbolizes the human capacity for this awakening. But God is also ahead because God is always more than anything that exists. Hence God is our future, the One in whom the fullness of new life exists. So God is in every person, leaf, and star, and the future of everything that exists. How do we know this to be true? Because science studies nature and God is the ground of nature, the mysterious depth of nature, and the future of nature’s becoming. Faith seeks understanding, Saint Augustine said, and science deepens our understanding of nature. And what science tells us today is that nature is formed by entangled fields of energy. From the most basic levels of life up to the human person, we are bound together by webs of energy. And these interlocking energy webs are in movement. Strangely enough, they are moving toward more complex levels of relationship and higher levels of consciousness. Evolution means that life is a dynamic process; it is not static. In an evolutionary world, life embraces change, chance, and randomness.
One of the primary influences on this process is consciousness or the flow of information which creates awareness. As energy fields overlap or converge, consciousness rises. On the human level, this means when we encounter another person we are interacting with them on a fundamental level of consciousness or informational flow. If I resist this encounter or refuse to allow the information to flow into my conscious self then I artificially constrict evolution by refusing to converge with another. However, if I am open to the fullness of life, then I accept an encounter as an opportunity to deepen consciousness and form new levels of relationship.
Evolution flows when we look together toward the future, remaining open to convergence and new ways of life, including new ideas, new ways of knowing, new forms of belief, and new ways of doing things. We begin to realize that we are not stuck in a cosmic rut; our world is not a machine of “haves” and “have-nots.” We are moving and we are on our way to becoming something new. When the level of our awareness changes, we start attracting a new reality