Is This Summer a Turning Point For Us?
There are times when our lives seem to stretch back into the past and forward into the future. Some of us cannot remember the decisions which brought us to this present moment. At other times it feels like our lives have spun on a specific experience which has transformed us from heading in one direction and sent us speeding in another. Our lives have revolved on a turning point.
We may be accustomed to taking one step after another, persevering toward our goals. Obstacles do not block our progress because we overcome them whatever they are. We stubbornly persist against any resistance.
There are other moments when we realize it is time to change. Whether it is another person or an idea, something we have read or experienced, everything seems different.
I remember the times a dramatic turning point has shown me things in a new light. A good turning point can push us into a new relationship, a new career, a new home, or sometimes all three.
Many of us have felt slowed down and worn out by illness, loss, and grief during the last few years. It has seemed many aspects of the world have been headed in the wrong direction.
Many of us are tired of challenges which push us to live for survival each day, day after day. We have lost loved ones and favorite places, and the future seems filled with more loss and fatigue.
Some of us just want to recover a lost sense of normal, to return to where we were before all this happened. Where can we find the rest and comfort of how we used to live?
This summer may be the turning point which transforms our frustration and confusion into something new.
Each Moment Offers Its Own Turning Point
The monks I know appreciate each moment offers its own turning point to us.
They recognize monastic life can feel like it stretches back into the past and forward into the future. When I began discerning whether I was a lay Oblate, I began practicing morning and evening prayer.
It felt like such a hard commitment, to pray every morning and every evening, even when I did not feel like it. I experienced a turning point as I started to practice. It became clear to me the practice is not about not missing any mornings or evenings. Following the steps in the liturgy is not the most important part.
The Daily Office of morning and evening prayer revealed itself to me as an opportunity to join people praying around the world. I realized it was always time for morning prayer somewhere in the world, and also always time for evening prayer. I was joining Benedictines across the globe.
In addition, it was a turning point to realize the cycle of prayer was not only circling the globe, but stretching back into the past and forward into the future. This practice is joining Benedictines through the generations into ancient times, as well as those who are still to join the practice tomorrow.
This turning point helped me appreciate morning and evening prayer, and prayer in general, in new ways.
Monastic life is not a matter of simply following the same traditions people have followed for hundred of years. It may look like monks do the same thing each day, day after day, in the same order. In fact, each day, each moment offers us its own turning point.
How will the turning points we experience today send us into new directions?
Today Can Be a Turning Point
We wake up each day to something new. Some of us wake up in the morning when we first open our eyes. Others of us need to take some deep breaths and sit still to listen and recognize today is a turning point.
Today is an opportunity to see our past, or to look at our future, in a new way. It could be the turning point which shows us the possibilities still before us, or in which our regrets about what we have done are redeemed.
Each day we choose whether we will keep our heads down, our eyes on the ground, or look to the sky.
Every morning can be a turning point which helps us see things in new ways.
Spiritual life is not merely a matter of surviving or avoiding the war, famine, pestilence, and death in the world. We begin to see life in new ways and recognize how we can help people overcome life’s challenges.
Our turning point then spreads to others and prompts them to appreciate life differently.
Today, this moment, can be the turning point which sparks us to live in a new way, to move in a new direction.
This Summer Is Our Turning Point
When it feels like the whole world has stopped, or things are going in the wrong direction, the earth still rotates.
We may wish for a superhero to come and save us from ourselves, but spiritual life does not work that way.
Spiritual life is all about us taking time to discern the wisdom in sacred stillness. We listen and reflect, and realize spiritual life is all around us and within us.
This summer can be a time which turns us around. We can find practices which connect us to each other and in which we discern the truths of spiritual life.
We do not need to force ourselves to meet anyone else’s rules and expectation. As we practice being open and honest with spiritual life, we begin to recognize the ways we need to live into life differently.
This can be the summer we look back on as the point we began to turn around.
It can be the summer which reveals to us a still point around which our entire world revolves.
How will today’s turning point show us how to live in new ways?
Is this summer the turning point we need?
[Image by European Southern Observatory]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.