As the years pass our bodies go through changes, along with our minds and spirits. Human race consciousness teaches that as our stay on this planet is prolonged, we must experience deterioration in our bodies and minds. We have been taught that these changes that take place are negative and that we should fight them to the extent that we can with medical and scientific intervention. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, we must inevitably experience change in our bodies and minds, but none of this should be viewed as negative or as deterioration. It is just different.
One reason for the changes to the body and mind is that we are required to serve different functions when we are different ages. The body needs to be robust and full of vigor at a younger age in order to do the work of raising children and supporting them. As we mature those functions become less important and our mental and spiritual development become more important. The mature body affords us the opportunity to extend our mental and spiritual growth. It is important however to remember that we do not have to become decrepit or senile, but there will be changes just as there are changes from birth to adulthood. The old adage “age is just a state of mind” has a lot of truth to it. As we embrace the characteristics of our maturity, we see that all stages in our life offer unique experiences and blessings.
The spiritual path is quite similar in that as we develop our character and experiences change. We must understand that the spiritual path is a journey not a destination. Each moment of everyday we have the opportunity to learn new things about ourselves. We are constantly changing just as the rest of the Universe is. All seekers have periods of great forward advancement, which are followed by stagnant, and regression phases. This is the natural order of progress.
No matter how spiritually mature person we become; we will have moments in which we revert into immature states of mind. Psalm 71 begins with gratitude for the shelter of God’s wings. Being in the grasp of worldly challenges and changes can be painful. But God is with us from our birth, for it is Spirit that has given us life (it was you who took me from my mothers womb). We do not have to plan or do anything to be born, it happens. We are guided and protected by God all the days of our lives. When we connect with that truth there is no reason for us to be anything but grateful.
When we as faithful ones find ourselves facing challenges, we are often isolated because they are “in the world but not of the world.” We must remember that we are out of the ordinary (portent) to many, but that does not matter because God is our refuge. When we start to find ourselves slipping it is critical to focus on the good in our life (praise) and our oneness with God (glory).
The spiritually mature person can experience the dark night of the soul. These are times in which our faith is severely tested. We struggle with having thoughts of limitation and separateness from God, which challenge our faith (they say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken). We can maintain contact with the Presence by asking for Spirit’s assistance in battling these thoughts (accusers). And affirm God’s presence in our lives (my mouth will tell of your righteous acts). We can focus on the blessings that God has provided, so many that we cannot comprehend (though their number is past my knowledge). When all else fails, we can shift our attention back to God by giving thanks for all of the good that has been in our lives in our life.
We can take lessons on how to act and what to believe from the early days of our faith (from my youth you have taught me). For when we are young we do not think about arthritis and senility. Children do not worry where the next meal is coming from or how the bills are going to be paid. The faith of the young is pure. We long for the devotion of our youth, and ask that we not lose that understanding of God (do not forsake me). We should not fail to recognize that although it does not have the same youthful exuberance, spiritual maturity brings a deeper faith. It is not something that wanes over time. It is, however, different, and our zealousness may not seem as fervent as it had been. What we lack in outward dynamism, we can more than make up for in steadfastness and conviction.
We can and will be brought up from the depths of worldly consciousness (earth), to the extent we are willing to repent (change our thinking). Finally the light will break (you increase my honor and comfort me once again). While it seems that these dark night experiences are designed to destroy our faith, in truth their purpose is to fortify and strengthen our commitment to our path and take us deeper in our relationship to God. The spiritual path is filled with ups and downs that we all must navigate. As we progress the lessons become more difficult but the rewards of success are infinitely greater.