“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” (Eccl 3:1) This verse was part of one of the readings at the recent funeral of a friend—one of two that I’ve attended in the last month or so. We constantly encounter change in the seasons of our lives. These changes range from larger scale societal changes to more particular, personal changes in our immediate environment. They include changes beyond our control, such as unforeseen sickness, loss of loved ones, loss of a job, and even aging and death.
A Time for Everything, Including the Effects of Ageing
Pew Research Center reports that 10,000 Boomers per day have turned, or will turn over the next ten years, 65 years of age. Many of us are in our seventies now. Quite a few of us continue to work at secular pursuits, taking some pressure off the current shortage of labor in all fields. That’s fine if you can manage it. I even had a client tell me that “75 is the new 55!” I don’t believe it—I don’t care how active you are, how fit or how optimistic; being a septuagenarian is not the same as being in one’s mid-fifties. (Ask me how I know.)
A Time to Face the Reality of Life Expectancy
Speaking of a time for everything, consider current mortality statistics. Recent statistics show a life expectancy of a tad less than 80 years in the United States. Some of us have family histories with higher life expectancies, so we may have a better chance of living into our 80s, or maybe even longer. But even at that, what will life look like? At what point do our physical or mental conditions diminish such that we become care receivers instead of caregivers?
A Time for Shoring Up Our Interior Life
Yes, there is a time for everything. For us Boomers, it’s time to take stock of where we are with God at this time. If today we were to meet our Creator, just how well would we be prepared to meet Him and our particular judgment? Have we cultivated some basic habits that draw us into a closer relationship with Him? Consider at a minimum: Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, frequent confession (at least monthly), daily prayer, including the Rosary, and lectio divina. This basic plan of life can help get us ready for the denouement when the day comes.
We all can benefit from spending some time, or a bit more time, in lectio divina, praying with Scripture, to get to know Jesus up close and personally. Most of us Boomers no longer have young family commitments. As a result, we ought to be able to more easily carve out some quality time with Our Lord each day now. I recall a statement I read or heard to the effect that if we don’t want to spend time with Jesus now, why would He think we want to spend time with Him later? That’s worth pondering.
A Time for Transitions of Significance
We Boomers are, or soon will be, looking at the last quarter, the final inning, the home stretch—or whatever metaphor you prefer–of our lives. Assuming we’ve covered the basics of the interior life, we probably still have a huge question to consider right here and now. I am speaking of asking the Lord what He would have us do for Him in our final years.
This life is short, and for those of us in our 60’s and 70’s, what’s left of it will flash by in the blink of an eye. What unique talents, skills, charisms, competencies or resources can each one of us devote to the greater glory of God? What’s he calling us to do in these last, precious years here in this life? We should not be pusillanimous about it, either. After the years of experience and wisdom we’ve accumulated, we each have something unique to offer our brothers and sisters in Christ, for His greater glory. Why not approach carrying out His will for us with energy, commitment, and devotion?
A Time for Serious Discernment
Just how might we discern what God is calling us to do in the last years of our life? Three ideas come to mind: prayer, prayer and more prayer. This is why it’s so important to develop at least some rudimentary lectio divina habits. We need to go to the Lord, pray to Him and listen to what He’s telling us. This is a process that can take some time. We’re not likely going to get a flash of insight in one or two prayer sessions.
To be open to Our Lord’s plan for us, we need more than time, though. We need purity of intention and detachment. As St. Ignatius of Loyola put it, we need to pray for the grace that all our intentions, acts, and operations be done purely for the service and praise of God. That’s what purity of intention entails. The service to others that we discern God is asking us to carry out is not for the purpose of making us feel good or look good in others’ eyes. It’s to serve Him for His greater glory.
Detachment—indifference—is a critical component of any go-forward plan. It means we are willing to play the last quarter of this game of life according to His playbook, not ours. In other words, we are to develop an indifference as to states of health and of wealth, and public approbation or opprobrium. Otherwise, concerns over these matters can get in the way–in between us and God, and in between us and God’s plan for us. Is this going to be easy? Maybe not, but that’s that the question we’re trying to answer. The real question is, “What does the Lord want me to do for Him in my remaining time here?” It’s that simple.
Now is the Time
No matter what we believe Our Lord is calling us to do, as He told St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) He will equip us for the mission He intends for us. However, we must be open to His will, with detachment and humility. If you’re a Boomer or you know a Boomer, there’s no time like the present to begin discernment. There’s no time like now to prayerfully consider, with the help of a confessor or spiritual director, what God wants you to do with the rest of your life. He’s waiting… And who knows what spiritually wonderful surprises He has in store for you?
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all that I have and call my own. You have given it all to me. To You, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours. Do with it what You will. Give me only Your love and Your grace–that is enough for me (St. Ignatius of Loyola).