Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Join us for Mass at 9:00 a.m.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Second Half of Life

In the second half of life, a number of things happen to us.  We sense our connection with those who suffer.  Whereas we used to try to avoid suffering at all costs, we come to a point where we discover that suffering teaches us some very important lessons and is able to change us in very important ways.  We realize in the second half of life that darkness is as much an essential part of life as light.  We used to try to avoid darkness, but we come to a point when we learn that darkness expands our spirit.  It joins us to others.  It puts us in our proper place in the universe.  Often this change in our outlook happens after we have lost loved ones, after we realize that we cannot control very much of what happens in our lives.  In the second half of life, we come to know that life does not depend upon us and our efforts; it depends upon God and God’s love for us.  We stop seeing God as one who is apart from loss, death and limitation.  We stop looking at God as identified with success, prosperity and moral correctness.  We learn that God is in all things, the dark and the light, the life and the death, the gain and the loss, the victory and the defeat.  We are able in the second half of life to be with Jesus as he dies on the cross, we are able to know that experience and to know that it is okay and we will come through that pain and loss in the glorious gift of real life from God.  In the second half of life, we see that there are very few things we really need.  We stop going after what is unnecessary, what is merely distracting, what glimmers and shines, what is attractive, and we seek what is needed, what meets our truest desires and longings, what is substantial and what will last.  In the second half of life, we are no longer looking to be the center of attention, we are not trying to be liked or to be a hero, we are not trying to accomplish goals, we are content with life on its own terms.  In the second half of life, we are not trying to prove anything. 

We get to the heart of life in the second half which is not defined in terms of years or experiences.  Even children can become quite wise when their circumstances teach them the true meaning of life, when they sense that everything is a gift, when they see that their relationships define them, when they stop trying to impress others, when they are like the children of God and the children whom Jesus called to himself and whom he blessed and invited to the kingdom.  We often see such children in those who are dealing with serious illness, who are in the dying process, who have been rescued from situations of abuse and are able to know love again, who have lost a parent and have found another adult who loves them unconditionally.  These children know that everything in life is a gift.  They do not earn their blessings, they simply receive them.  All who come to the second half of life know this.

The transition to the second half of life is not easy.  It comes with a price.  We must give up our illusions about ourselves, our belief that we are meant only for success, that if we do everything right, everything will come out right for us.  Our notion of God changes as we go into the second half of life.  God is no longer a rescuer from all that hurts us.  God is no longer only seen as the one who rewards the good and punishes the sinner.  God is not just identified with glory, victory and power.  God becomes a God of all situations, a God who can be present in absence, a God who suffers when God’s people suffer, a God who works in unknown and unaccustomed ways, a God who is inscrutable and who often writes in crooked lines, a God who is both small and great, a God who more often than not comes to us in the tiny whispering sounds of our lives.  The God of Sinai becomes the God of the empty tomb.  When we come to the second half of life, we are content with this God.  We stop making God in our image and we let God be what God wants to be.

Written by parishioner, Gene Ulses