“Nobody puts new wine in old wineskins; otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins and run to waste … No; new wine must be put in fresh skins.” (Luke 5:37-38)
TO some, this scripture highlights the need to make proper adjustments with new attitudes and new perspectives in life.
It could be interpreted as encouragement from Jesus to move with the times.
After all, Jesus turned the world upside down with his teaching which cannot be understood by the ancient categories from the Old Testament.
Certainly, it is that and yet, that is not the whole picture.
For those of us who have moved into the second half of life through transformation, there was realisation that the old had to die to become new; that to taste the new wine offered by Jesus, the old had to be discarded.
Jesus told Nicodemus that one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven, “without being born from above … born of water and Spirit” (John 3:3,5).
Spiritual transformation, like the physical metamorphosis of the butterfly, is a difficult and painful process.
However, transformation requires growth and change, and so for our souls to fly free, we must embrace the growing pains.
St Paul calls this “the foolishness of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
It’s been suggested that we don’t move toward the second half of life until we’ve gone through the first half and the transition period.
That generally follows an encounter and battle with the “noonday devil” and you choose a huge leap of faith, the always-risky fall into the ocean of mercy.
It’s been said it is the only path toward your larger and True Self, where you don’t need to prove yourself to God anymore.
Then it’s not what you do for God; it’s what God has done for you.
You switch from trying to love God to just letting God love you.
It is at that point you fall in love with God and learn to listen to the different voices that guide you in the second half of life.
These deeper voices will sound like risk, trust, surrender, uncommon sense, destiny, love.
They will be the voices of an intimate stranger, a voice that is from somewhere else, and yet it is my deepest self at the same time.
It is the still small voice that the prophet Alicia slowly but surely learned to hear (1 Kings 19).
A few years ago, within a spiritual companioning peer group, I explored six phases of my psychological and Christian – Paschal mystery – transformation story.
This is what I wrote:
Good Friday – Phase 2 – Disintegration
Lost: A way of life, in place for so many years.
It is gone and lost for ever.
No coming back.
Holy Saturday – Phase 3 – Desert/dark night
The darkness descends, seemingly slowly, the realisation dawns, the pain felt, relationships suffer.
You said You would provide.
But where oh where have You gone?
Now the lights go out, only darkness remains.
No match to strike to give me but a glimmer of light.
Easter Sunday – Phase 4 – Gift/New Vision
Alone in the darkness new hopes emerge.
Hey, I am not alone – not really.
You are present – You have not gone.
Forty Days – Phase 5 – Experimentation
Slowly a sliver of light breaks through.
New plans come to mind.
Dare I set new goals?
Dare I write new plans?
Ascension – Phase 6 – Reintegration
Count what counts, You say.
Look at the blessings of my life.
A fire grows within my heart; it begins again to blaze.
You have more for me to do?
There is hope after all.
Pentecost – Phase 1– Perfection
Your Light shines through me.
Let go, let God.
Hand it over to You.
And now I live in the moment
Life is much more than a journey – it is an adventure.
The path may meander with unexpected twists and turns; it may climb in ways that lead to breathlessness and fall away in parts that startle and even frighten.
Sometimes the way seems easy, while on the rocky road we may stumble and fall.
Yet, the Spirit of Light is within and we follow the Son who was nailed to a tree for love of all humankind.
He is the prize upon which our sights are set, and he will lead us onwards to the prize.
What a Quest life is.
God is in this place.
In the second half of life, you start to understand that life is not only about doing; it’s about being.
As St John says, “In love there can be no fear. Fear is driven out by perfect love.”
Have a golden day and treasure life.
By Terry Lees
Terry Lees is a member of the Mount Isa Catholic parish.