Honoring Endings

Earlier this year, the Center for Action and Contemplation announced a new semi-annual publication of the Rohr Institute, Oneing: An Alternative Orthodoxy. The title of the publication is taken from Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love, where Julian describes one of her experiences as “a great oneing betwixr Christ and us.” Although I have not yet red the first edition of Oneing, I just finished reading the second edition, which focuses on the theme of “ripening.”

In his introduction to the issue, Richard Rohr explains that ripening was chosen a the theme ‘to move us beyond any exclusive concern with physical aging….We want to talk about notions of maturity, eldership, staging, sequencing, growth, and direction.” The issue contains eleven essays addressing varying aspects of the theme and offer much to reflect on.

Dr. Sally Severino’s contribution to the issue is a piece titled Reflections on the Spirituality of Aging. In it, she suggests that as one ages, growth toward union with God entails four tasks: honoring endings, making meanings, freeing fear/annulling anger, and giving one’s gift.

The first of those is often very difficult for us: “to know when something ends and to honor that empyting by letting go.” We have such a tendency to cling to the way things are (or were) and it is hard for us to accept changes, especially when they appear as losses. Losses of friends. Loss of a job. Loss of ability to do things we once could do. Loss of memory.

Severino gives examples of some of the endings she has honored. The “empty” nest, signaling the end of her active parenting. Honoring her children’s freedom to live their own lives, she began forming new and different relationships. Retirement, which she honored by beginning to write books and becoming a Felician Associate, broadening her relationships and encouraging her spiritual journey.

We all face endings of one sort or another. “Honoring endings, with all the sorrow that those ‘deaths’ bring, moves us into joyous freedom.”

What endings have you faced? And how have you honored them?

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