Once again I wasn’t sure what I would be writing about this morning, but the Spirit is leading me once again. I used to feel awkward talking and writing about things in spiritual terms. Well, still do. But I sense a great spiritual poverty. And with so many turning away from organized religion, where do people fulfill their spiritual needs? So many of us, of all ages, spend a lot of time on social media platforms like Facebook, twitter, etc. And reading blog posts. So, one of the reasons I write is hoping things I’m working through and/or experiencing might be helpful.
But that isn’t the only, or primary reason I write. From my days at Scattergood Friends School, a Quaker boarding high school on a farm in Iowa, I used writing in a journal to create the conditions to help me focus on what the Spirit might be trying to tell me. I believe we need some sort of spiritual discipline, whatever that might be for you. Because this praying is an ongoing process, I know there will be things I once believed that might change with further reflection or experience.
I was at Scattergood at the time of the Vietnam War. The country was in turmoil. The Selective Service System, or draft, was forcing thousands of young men into the military. Almost 50,000 soldiers would die. On one of the national moratorium days to stop the war in Vietnam, our entire student body walked in silence for twelve miles from the school into the University of Iowa.
I wrote a great deal about Quakers, pacifism and war during those days. I was trying to determine whether I would register as a conscientious objector, or else refuse to participate in the system. It was a difficult choice for several reasons. If I chose to resist the draft I could be sent to prison. But I knew this decision would set the path for the rest of my life. If I believed I should resist the draft, but took the easier way out as a conscientious objector, I knew that would haunt me the rest of my life. I decided to become a draft resister. It turned out I was not arrested for that, though many others were.
Yesterday I was blessed to attend the graduation ceremony at Simpson College, where my very good friend Reza Mohammadi received his degree. I was moved by the ceremony, and witnessing a pivotal moment in the graduate’s lives.
The blog post by Sheila Kennedy today is related to this. Triggering Introspection | Sheila Kennedy
Charles Blow of The New York Times, was pondering what he called the “second phase of adulthood,” which begins, in his estimation, when one’s children graduate from high school or college and leave home.
No matter how we calculate the phases of our lives, death becomes an inescapable intrusion. As Blow notes, parents decline and die, we lose friends and relatives, and those losses change us.
This seemingly sudden intrusion of death into your life changes you. At least it is changing me. It reminds me that life is terribly fragile and short, that we are all just passing through this plane, ever so briefly. And that has impressed upon me how important it is to live boldly, bravely and openly, to embrace every part of me and celebrate it, to say and write the important things: the truth and my truth.
Blow enumerates some of the changes he is making in his “second phase”–as he says, he’s started to manage his regrets, to forgive himself for foolish mistakes and poor choices, and “to remember that we are all just human beings stumbling through this life, trying to figure it out, falling down and getting back up along the way.”
Transitions of this sort–common to all of us as we age–tend to prompt introspection. Where has life taken us? How do we want to spend the years remaining? What hard-won insights, wisdom or support do we have to offer our friends and families as they confront those same questions?
I know Reza will continue to live boldly, bravely and openly.