“You cannot “kill time without injuring eternity….”
--Henry David Thoreau
As I write this I am in my sister Nancy’s cabin in a lovely little woods in the rolling hills of north central Ohio. It is a Sunday afternoon in July, cooler than usual, and the flowers are at their summer best. Her little black cat, Midnight, is sleeping nearby on an old-fashioned rag carpet.
This morning my two siblings—my sister Nancy and my sister Peggy—and their husbands and I took my ninety-five year old father to the church he attended with my now-deceased mother for many decades, the very church in which all three of us were baptized by immersion. The old familiar congregation has been declining both in numbers and in vitality and most of the members are seventy years or older. Nevertheless, we and they were all able to sing the opening hymn with gusto—“How Great Thou Art.”
Here at Lakeside we expatriates also are a community of older people, although in our case retirees in the north seem to be arriving often enough to more than replenish those among us who have moved on to, hopefully, the “higher realms,” to begin all over again as expatriates, as one elderly member at The Lake Chapala Society pointed out to me one day.
We are no longer pursuing careers, or raising children, or moving into larger and larger houses, or even climbing 14,000 feet mountain peaks. Many of us, however, remain active spiritually—and how appropriate it is that our final years allow us the leisure to be devoted to our spiritual lives, to move even closer to God.
With much less time remaining to us in our earthly sojourn, these are not years to be wasted watching re-runs of Friends, or playing computer solitaire, or even sitting around drinking coffee and eating donuts and talking about everything that is bad about America or Mexico, about Bush or Obama. We have already “killed” enough time in our lives. Let’s not “kill” our final years by wasting them on frivolity.
Remember the famous passage in Ecclesiastes? “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.” Pete Seeger turned this into a hit song for the Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” What “season” is this for us? What “thing” fits this “season” of our lives?” “What purpose?”
This is a season to speed up our spiritual growth. To do this we must eliminate non-essential relationships, and we must no longer spend time in the company of those who would deplete our energies, who would distract us from our paths. We are, when all is said and done, souls living only temporarily in time and space, and in our final years we must identify more and more with our souls, and with higher worlds beyond time and space.
This is the time to purify our minds, to clean up our lives, to become more spiritually aware, to turn toward higher realities. St Paul says “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.[Galatians 5:22-23] For starters let’s master those qualities. Meditation is really more about “waking up” than sitting back in a chair and relaxing.
Paramahansa Yogananda writes, “By deep meditation and living a God-centered life, calm the waves of thought and desire that constitute our ordinary perception of reality. Then, in super-consciousness, you will behold everything as it really is.”