Saturday, August 13, 2016

Maturity and Forgiveness: Growing in a Great Mysterious Life

I sometimes say that I am "old" or "washed up" but I know it isn't true. All I have to do is reflect upon some of the many experiences I am having together with other friends and colleagues over the age of fifty.

Life is an ongoing journey. Often I still feel like a kid inside, and I think there's something real about that. I don't think we "outgrow" things but rather we "grow into" new things, deeper things. Our whole lives are "still alive"--the good things can continue growing, and the failures can heal because we can find forgiveness if we are willing, also, to forgive.

At our age, we either begin to move humbly toward wisdom or we begin to fall into disappointed resignation, cynicism and bitterness. I'm always trying to sort out these motivations, and, honestly, I think they are usually muddled and mixed up as I live through these days and years in my life.

So I throw myself upon the mercy of Jesus, and I try to remember that I must keep forgiving other people. I must forgive every day.

And surely we have reached the age where we ought to understand concretely the need to forgive people, especially those close to us. We have enough experience to know their limits, to know that they can't give us everything we feel like we need from them. Nor can we be sufficient for the fulfillment of their hopes.

God alone suffices. He alone corresponds to our need. How can we not forgive one another when we are all beggars before Him? We are beggars, but there is no shame in embracing this poverty. We are poor because we are made for an infinite love, and He who is that Love fills to overflowing all the spaces we open up to Him.

In ordinary life it can be hard to be forgiving, but through it we can attain a renewed, mature innocence. Forgiveness generates healing, and keeps alive our hope and our capacity to be surprised by life, to see all the good there is in reality and in other people.

Maturity is a blessing. We're all still "growing up" in this great mysterious life. Time deepens our capacity to love (if we let it). I feel like I'm more aware of people as time goes on, and more aware of how many people are with me on this journey.

I have more empathy for young people with their fresh aspirations, sincerity, and restless energy. How great it is to see them grow. I also have a deeper appreciation for older people, who are wise and beautiful in so many way I never used to notice, and who deserve my attention and, indeed, veneration.

This is a good time to live, these later years of "middle age."

Really, we have so much to be grateful for. And still much to give.

It is our turn to be courageous in taking responsibility for our milieu, to be leaders, and we have to do our very best to rise to this challenge. We can only do this if we continue to grow humbly in maturity and forgiveness.