People have been telling me for a while that I should start a blog, so here it goes. Here I will share some reflections on life and spirituality. I consider this a companion to my website - www.spiritualwoman.net - a place where I can talk about what I am currently reading (I am always reading something!), life events, and having an ongoing relationship with God. While some of the writings I post here may eventually end up in an article of mine, this will be a more informal type of writing - random thoughts on spirituality and life.
I am privileged to live in a city with a wonderful library system, not to mention a great interlibrary loan program. While I love bookstores, I rarely buy books. For me, the library is the way to go. My current reading for pleasure is "Memories of Hawthorne" by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop. My mother who is a Dominican Tertiary introduced me to Rose and I profiled her in my most recent "Profile in Faith" for my website (for more info, check out http://www.spiritualwoman.net/Profiles/Hawthorne.html). She was the youngest daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, famous 19th century American author, and his wife, Sophia Peabody. Ultimately, she would decide to embrace poverty, minister to poor cancer patients, and begin a religious community. Before turning her back on her previous life, however, she wrote "Memories of Hawthorne," an exploration of her parents' lives.
The librarian had to get the book, published in 1897, out of storage for me. It came out covered in dust and smelling like only old books can smell (I have always loved the smell of old books - one of my odder characteristics!). I am currently on page 79. Mostly so far it is letters that Sophia Peabody Hawthorne wrote, edited by Rose. Letters tell us so much about people. I'm old enough that I actually remember life before email, and had several correspondences with people via letters that were handwritten and sent via mail. There is something about receiving a letter in the mail and opening it and being able to keep and reread it. I would never trade the convenience of email, but 100 years from now, I think our world may have lost something by not having a written record of our relationships.
The last letter I read today was from Sophia to Nathaniel while he was away on business. She writes, " If I asked myself strictly whether I could write to you this evening, I should say absolutely no, for ten thousand different things demand the precious moments while our baby sleeps." How I can relate to that! With two young children, the evening hours after they are in bed are my only opportunity to pursue my own interests. The list of things to do always outweighs the time!
For my website and newsletter (which is also a pleasure - I am so lucky to do something I love), I am reading "A Resilient Life" by Gordon MacDonald (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004). In Chapter 7, "Resilient People Foresee the Great Questions of Life's Passage" MacDonald discusses the "big questions" of every decade in adult life. He himself is in his sixties, but he also spoke with his elders to get their perspective on life's meaning. The questions are worth reflecting on:
In the 20s:
"What will I do with my life? What parts of me and my life need correction?"
In the 30s: (this is where I find myself)
"How do I prioritize the demands being made on my life? How far can I go in fulfilling my sense of purpose? What does my spiritual life look like? Do I even have time for one?"
In the 40s:
"Why are limitations beginning to outnumber options? Why do I seem to face so many uncertainties?"
In the 50s:
"Why is time moving so fast? How do I deal with my failures and successes? What do I do with my doubts and fears?"
In the 60s:
"When do I stop doing the things that have always defined me? Is there life after death? Who will be around me when I die?"
In the 70s and 80s:
"Does anyone realize, or even care, who I once was? Is there anything I can still contribute? Heaven - what is it like?"
These questions certainly provide some food for thought, don't they? I think to some extent, the questions cross the decades and depend on personal circumstances, but that MacDonald is correct in pinpointing the major issues for each decade.