The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-charge Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

It is no surprise that people who live hectic lives desire time to slow down, to "smell the roses," and even to be silent and pray. This desired change usually comes in the second half of life. One begins to ask questions while pondering possible answers. Is my "rat race" what life is meant to be? What would happen if I took time to find out who I truly am? Is there more to my life than simply being busy and satisfying chores? Is there a deeper meaning to life?

The questions one could ask are endless. And getting started can be troubling in the early throes of pulling back -- which has been described as an "often disjointed, incoherent, and disturbingly nonconforming season." One can't just pull back into a quieter, simpler, and more reflective life all of a sudden. It takes time and patience.

Some seek a simpler life without big changes but desire the opportunity to plant seeds, grow plants, and see them blossom. They'd like to be closer to nature and to have time to think as they do gardening. Others find relief by downsizing from large homes to something more manageable and easier to maintain. The desire can be to see more of the life that surrounds them without the chaos of excess work, few vacations, and perhaps addiction to negative politics, drink, or pills.

Still, others make the change for spiritual reasons. Having lived for many years they want to know who they really are. Are they just what they do? Is their identity determined by what others think of them? Or could it be that there is a transcendent Self that rests quietly within them that seeks to be recognized? Some have discovered that as their external life gets simplified their interior life is strengthened and refined. An author writes that with this life-adjustment one gains strength to grow in the interior life. "We give more power to the deeper Self, hear its voice with more clarity, and feel more purpose to life." (Marsha Sinetar)

This inner Self can easily be called God. But when we think of God dwelling in each of us, calling God the Self with a capital "S" identifies God as living within each of us desiring to be known. We think in scripture of the "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12) that can be heard when we are quiet and in moments of meditation. Many find this voice to be gentle -- teaching and encouraging us to discover the joy of God's presence in the silence. Our response may not be to go out and do something. It may be simply to receive God's gifts of joy and peace. God wants time to be with us -- to enjoy quality time together.

If you are seeking a more authentic life, take time to review your life, to make changes as necessary, and to live the remainder of your life in the nearer presence of God. Fill the mature years of life with the joys of loving God and coming closer to the Creator both for this life and the next.