— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —
As many of you know, we moved my mother-in-law into a wonderful nursing home in November. Of course, we knew that, after living independently for so many years, she would have difficulties transitioning. But what we did not expect was her anger at the world, her inability to appreciate her blessings.
And many she had. Born prior to the nazi [sic] reign of terror, she nevertheless had, in her adult life, much to be thankful for: a comfortable home, good health, children who have good lives, many happy and successful grandchildren. Now she is surrounded by caring people, has good food, a warm dry place to sleep. How does it happen that she – and we – often cannot see God’s blessings all around us?
Remembering Erik Erikson’s stage theory of psychosocial development, I consulted again that final stage of development: Integrity versus Despair. The summary of this stage, copied from “verywellmind.com”, says “During the integrity versus despair stage, people reflect back on the life they have lived and come away with either a sense of fulfillment from a life well lived or a sense of regret and despair over a life misspent.”
But to me, that seems quite subjective. I see my mother-in-law’s life one way, she sees it another. And does that mean that those whose lives have been compromised by events outside of their control such as victims of war are destined to despair? Erikson’s stages also put the focus on the individual and, therein, I believe, lies the crux of my mother-in-law’s pain. We will so often feel as if we have little…unless we are open to the broader reality. Instead of concentrating on ourselves, on what we no longer have, how much more enriching and liberating is it to be open to the wonder of God’s world around us. “When we’re trapped in old images, we keep living out of them, fighting against them, resisting them, and even saying they don’t work. But it seems we are incapable oftentimes of creating or even accepting new images and living out of those new images.” (Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 2 January, 2023).
To sum up, I’m thinking that the key to contentment in aging is not necessarily to look with comparing eyes at what I or others have accomplished. That will remain whether I find pleasure in past deeds or not. What seems more important is to relinquish my pride and to accept that I am part of a greater wonder, an infinitesimally small cog in God’s ever-turning wheel. Thoughts???
The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.
Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.
We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.