“Staying young forever is an impossible burden. Our bodies change. We slow down. We grow old. Growing old is a natural process of the life cycle; . . . it is a time to open our minds and deepen into the wisdom and strengths that are inherently our own.” ~Eve Reed
The Fall season of our life is the time to realize our whole self. We came into this world being one with our [eternal] Soul. As infants, we unconsciously manifested this reality. The budding of our consciousness, both in context and focus, was the concrete physical world. The first two phases of our development, the seasons of Spring and Summer, were primarily physical/world-centered [Human Development]. Now, in this Fall season, it’s Soul time: a time to be Soul-centered, to consciously discover and manifest the fullness of God’s unique design for our lives. In this way, we consciously circle back toward home.
The Fall season is radically different than the earlier developmental seasons. While the earlier phases focus on changing the Human Doing [actions], the Fall season is about the transformation of the Human Being.
This difference is huge. The Fall season is a time for Whole Being [person] transformation, resulting in a whole new way of being. This is a Soul-Alive-centered, Divine-empowered, graced-filled process, as opposed to Ego-centered and will-powered, as with earlier development.
With more years behind us than before us, each of us sits at a decisive juncture on our earthly journey. Our choice in this Fall season of life is to 1.] turn a blind eye and continue on the old path that brought us thus far, or 2.] recognize the significance and follow the new path to discover what it offers. Both paths will take us through the Fall season of life however the fruit of the two journeys will be as different as night and day.
In choosing our path forward, it is imperative that we take in the magnitude of what this season of life offers. We are living in a time of tremendous transformation, likely the beginnings of the Fall season of our collective lives, at the same time that we are in the Fall season of our personal lives, which underscores the need to not overlook what is at stake for us.
For the most part, women in past generations believed they had limited choices as to how they lived out their aging years. This is understandable given they were steeped in a culture, and subsequently a model of aging, that was physical/world-centered [in the Spring and Summer seasons of Development]. The idea that their aging years [in the Fall season] could be a time of inner-transformation — a life-giving, meaning-making Soulful completion of life — was foreign to them.
One such woman was my fraternal Grandmother. She was a strong, independent-minded, self-made woman. She knew how to navigate in the physical realm. As a young woman, divorced with two small boys during the Depression years, she managed to not only support herself and her boys, but also to financially assist her mother and her younger sisters. In her early seventies, she became paralyzed from the waist down. She, with my Grandfather, resourcefully adjusted to the new challenges and they continued to live full, active lives.
When my Grandmother was in her mid-eighties, my Grandfather’s age and physical ailments began to take a toll on him. My Grandmother did not want to be dependent on anyone else for her care, so she convinced her husband to enter into a joint suicide pack. It backfired on her. Both had ingested what was assumed to be a lethal portion of medication. My Grandfather, the love of her life, died before her eyes. Because she was in bed, not in her wheelchair, she had no way to access additional medication. She lived two more years under the watchful eyes of her caretakers. My Grandmother did not have the benefit of recognizing the Fall season of her life as a signpost inviting her to deepen into her Soul — to discover the fullness of her life beyond the physical realm.
I’m sad to say the old cultural model of aging is still alive and well. Some women are still unknowingly being seduced into thinking they have little choice as to how they live out their years. We need not go that route. Fortunately, the ideas of personal development, transformation, and ‘Soul’ are not foreign to many of us, albeit not previously associated with our aging years. We have a choice to unconsciously age the cultural way or show up for ourselves and consciously age the Soul way [Soul Alive]. To open ourselves to the latter is to love ourselves. The gift of the journey is the fruition of our life lived. Knowing that the transformational power we need for our aging years is inherent in this Fall Season of our lives is food for the journey.
The journey can be demanding, but more so, it is gloriously fulfilling. It requires a steadfast commitment to 1.] learning to yield our Whole Being 2.] listening and heeding our Soul’s Voice; 3.] being open to God’s transforming love; 4.] being clear as to Why we are on it; 5.] accepting Who we are as we evolve, and 6.] cultivating the practice of being consciously present to the ongoing process of God transforming love working in us [i.e., Soul Witnessing].
This Soul-witnessing aspect in itself illustrates the dynamic/comprehensive/whole quality that is intrinsic to this phase of development. This is akin to a loving Mother being ever-present to her young child’s unfoldment. In the same way, we have the joy of attentively witnessing the unfoldment of God’s design within us.
It is through this Soul Witnessing that we participate in the power of God’s transformational love and become conscious of our Soul oneness in God [Wholeness /Human & Divine Oneness]. “The glory of God working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine,” Eph. 3:20.
Author and poet, John O’ Donohue, says: ‘To understand the harvest of your soul against the background of seasonal rhythm should give you a sense of quiet delight at the arrival of this time in life. It should give you strength and a sense of how the deeper belonging of your soul-world will be revealed to you.’
His words ring true for me, except my experience is more of awe, wonder, and elation than ‘quiet delight.’ To see our aging years in light of the magnificent, integral workings of Divine order is a glorious gift. May you taste the fruit of this Soul Harvest Season. As always, I welcome sharing of your journey, comments, feedback, or questions.
If you’d like to continue exploring this theme further, please take a look at my reference materials below.
Suggested Soul Practice:
A Heart of Wisdom – The Jewish Journey from Middle Through the Elder Years, by Susan Berrin
This book is filled with the stories of women who are recognizing & honoring the Fall season of their lives.
© 2013 Susan A. Purnell