Those of you who are over 60 and “ripening” will love this beautiful (and accurate) description of your current stage of life. Those of you who are under 60, whether you are dreading being older or anticipating that season of life, will gain hope from Richard Rohr’s words below:
“Ripening, at its best, is a slow, patient learning, and sometimes even a happy letting-go—a seeming emptying out to create readiness for a new kind of fullness—which we are never totally sure about. If we do not allow our own ripening, and I do believe it is somewhat a natural process, an ever-increasing resistance and denial sets in, an ever-increasing circling of the wagons around an over-defended self. At our very best, we learn how to hope as we ripen, to move outside and beyond self-created circles, which is something quite different from the hope of the young. Youthful hopes have concrete goals, whereas the hope of older years is usually aimless hope, hope without goals, even naked hope—perhaps real hope. Such stretching is the agony and the joy of our later years.
Old age, as such, is almost a complete changing of gears and engines from the first half of our lives and does not happen without slow realization, inner calming, inner resistance, denial, and eventual surrender, by God’s grace, working with our ever-deepening sense of what we really desire and who we really are. This process seems to largely operate unconsciously, although we jolt into consciousness now and then, and the awareness that you have been led, usually despite yourself, is experienced as a deep gratitude that most would call happiness. Religious people might even call it mercy.” (By Richard Rohr, adapted from Ripening, Oneing, Vol.1, No. 2 pp. 11-12)