by Christine Sine
Tom and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary last Wednesday. We are so grateful for the years we have already spent together, but find ourselves thinking more about the future and particularly our future than we once did. My meditation focus for the week has been What shapes your future?, the last of three of my “handprint posts on what has shaped my life. In many ways this has been the most meaningful of all.
I am convinced that what shapes my future more than anything else is my faith. Its strength, its resilience, my practices and their importance to me will all determine how I weather the future.
What Shapes My Faith?
This was the first question I asked myself. Five things came to mind:
- Accept change with gratitude
As I look to the changes I know will happen both in my life and in our world over the next few years I realize I have two choices – I can embrace it, looking for the good and accept it with gratitude or I can resent what is being given up, reject change and scream in the dark. This does not mean I will sit passively and wait for change to happen. There are some changes we can control. Exercise strengthens our bodies and makes it easier for us to adapt as we age. Games, puzzles and mental exercises help our brains stay young. I think spiritual exercises keep our spirits you and adaptable too.
- Cultivate resilience
I have long been an advocate for practices that create resilience. How do we make sure that we can be buffeted by the winds of the future without breaking? Interestingly similar practices to those that make it possible for us to accept change are needed – exercise, spiritual practices, gratitude, refocusing retreats, community are all elements of my life that have contributed to my resilience.
- Create practices that restore and renew
As you know I am a strong advocate for regularly revising my spiritual practices so that they most effectively guide me into the future. Distinguishing between Rituals of Restoration and of Transformations is one concept that has really helped me here. Studying scripture, memorizing it, and allowing it to fill our inner being can also be important.
- Embrace Prayer as Communion with God
My understanding of prayer has changed considerably over the last few years. There are three basic forms of prayer we all need – those that reach inwardly and strengthen our hearts and minds, those that stretch up and strengthen our relationship to God and those that reach out and strengthen our relationship to others. All are ways to commune with God and without a balance of all three our lives are the poorer. I love my morning times of meditation and the sense of intimacy with God they provide but if that is the only form of prayer I engage in I will soon stagnate and drift away from God. Intercession for those I love as well as for those in hurting and wounded world is just as important.
- Strengthen Relationships
My husband, family friends, community and my interactions with the broader worldwide community are also important aspects of aging well into the future. This too may need to be a deliberate act – the busier we are, the more tired we become, the easier it is to neglect relationships. There needs to be intentionality in our relationships. Most closest friends and I have begun a discussion about what we need from each other as we move into the future. I wish we had done this many years ago – it is not just about aging, it is about living life together. The more we share, the stronger our bonds become and the richer our relationships become.
What Unseen Things Does God Still Want Me to Accomplish?
Not surprisingly Hebrews 11:1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see, comes to mind as I think of these things. None of us know what the future holds but this verse sums it up well
What do we hope for as we look to the future? I realize that to “age well” I need to focus not on trivial unseen things like relief from aches and pains or wrinkles, but more my life focus. What are the unseen things God still wants me to accomplish? I wonder. How can I continue to be an advocate for justice and sustainability?
I am appalled by the political environment in which we live. The treatment of refugees, reveal of environmental protection laws, attitude towards Muslims and LBGTQ people and growing animosity on both sides of the political divide horrifies me. And I feel I can do so little.
I believe in a God of love not hate, a God of forgiveness not retribution, of caring and compassion not indifference of peace not war and violence.
How do I share God’s love for all the people of the world and for the world itself in this kind of an environment? This I think is one of the most challenging questions all of us have to grapple with as we look at the future.
What do you think? As you look at the future what are you most passionate about and how does that shape how you ct and what you commit your life to?