In a recent edition of the Vintage Voice, a monthly publication of the Episcopal Church’s Pension Fund, a retired bishop, the Rt. Rev. David E. Richards, gave some wise insights of ways to live a creative life even in “our ascending years.” He began by noting the importance of one’s spiritual journey by maintaining the disciplines of piety, scripture, sacraments, and prayer, and in the development of a “genuine intimacy with God through the careful, thoughtful study of the scriptures, through the practice of meditation, through contemplative prayer, through disciplined intercessory prayer in which we willingly take on the burden and pain of other persons’ lives and the pain of the world as a way of uniting oneself and the whole of creation to God, the creator and Father of us all.” He also speaks about the importance of friendships and service as keys to creative aging.
I was moved by the importance of nourishing our spiritual journey so that we may be drawn into deeper intimacy with God. The spiritual journey is not primarily an adherence to the doctrines and disciplines of a particular religious tradition, but a personal relationship with the Source of our being. This is a mystical experience that relies on our willingness to receive into our lives the reality of a transcendent consciousness. It is an experience of ascending into the Mystery of God. It is a release of one’s self into the otherness of God. A self-centered life is exchanged for the overwhelming experience of divine Love. We learn that getting the descriptions of God right is not the goal of life’s experience. Rather, it is growth into a subjective acceptance of the miracle of creation that fills one with awe, wonder, and praise.
One of the joys of the “ascending years” is that we have the freedom to let go of the person others expected us to be (the false self), and to be ourselves in our ordinariness surrounded by the mystical presence of God loving us, accepting us, and drawing us day by day closer to the heart of God.