Pace, Pain, Peace

Psalm 27; Isaiah 26:7-15; Acts 2:37-42


“…I stay my haste, I make delays–

For what avails this eager pace?

I stand amid the eternal ways

And what is mine shall know my face…”

John Burroughs

A few years ago, my husband and I attended a conference focused on showcasing and celebrating the second half of life. What I mainly took away from this teaching was that our contemporary culture does not value elders; rather, it focuses its attention and veneration on youth. I’ve spent the last 27 years parenting three children and the last 13 years teaching middle school students, so I certainly have actively participated in supporting youth myself. However, today’s readings have encouraged me to look at my own inner house as a fifty-something and to ask the questions the Scriptures ask: Whom [or what] should I fear or dread [ as I enter the second half of life]? Who [or what] will be of help to me, will give me courage and the desires of my of my soul [as I face the inevitable losses and richness of the years beyond youth]? In meditating on these questions, what comes to me is trifold.

First, Pace. It must slow down. I struggle to quiet myself enough to hear the still voice within. This challenge goes beyond embracing my monkey brain during meditation. It infiltrates every area of my life. How can I enable myself to do a household chore with calm mindfulness and focused attention when exterior demands are unrelentingly clamoring for my attention? At what point/age, does attending to them abate? The answer, I’ve decided, lies with me. What I allow, continues. What I resist, persists.

Next, Pain. Like most Americans, I resist facing painful situations. Sometimes I am stricken by how much energy I am willing to put into avoiding feeling discomfort rather than simply accepting its entrance, having the experience, learning what it has come to teach me, and moving on through it. I am hopeful that as opportunities present themselves in the second half of my life for me to do all of the above, I will have the wisdom, patience, awareness, and time to allow my heart to be pierced.

Finally, Peace. Striving has worn me out. I want to BE. I am a human being, not a human doing. As the epigraph of this post mentions, “standing amid the eternal ways” helps bring on a perspective that promotes peace. I highly recommend you read the entire poem, especially if you, like me, are transitioning with awareness into a crone mindset, cultivating your life experiences to yield deeper feelings of inner peace.

Today, and for the rest of my life I will strive to deliberately slow my living pace, enfold and learn from the pain that comes to me, and be thankful for the peace that resides in an examined and heartfelt life. Amen.

Offered on December 8, 2014, by Jill Fredrickson, observer, teacher, nurturer of the spirit, child of God.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

3 thoughts on “Pace, Pain, Peace”

  1. Thanks for posting my ruminations, Johnna. Now, if I can only take my own advice! My best to you. — Jill

    1. You are welcome – and thank you for sharing your words and wisdom. The Pace thoughts are particularly applicable to me at this time of year. Peace! Johnna

  2. Hi Jill–thank you for your meaningful “ruminations”–they are balm for my restless spirit. Do you have info on where one might best find the Burroughs’ poem?

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