Living Sufficiently Unsettled
by Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.
In his book, Coaching Change, Dr. Thomas G. Bandy, writes: "I like the third principle of the Benedictine Rule, 'a commitment to live faithfully in unsettled times and to keep one's life sufficiently unsettled to respond to the changing voice of God'" (page 177).
Change is a spiritual necessity. As we mature, spiritual change is required as we surrender to the greater mystery of God's purposes over our own. Perhaps the reason so many adults in later life suffer from a spiritual somnolence is they have neither heard nor listened for God's call for personal change—spiritual transformation. These unawakened souls appear stuck in the darkness of the world.
For spiritually healthy advancing souls in their maturing years, the certainty they formerly ascribed to the world, dims. As a consequence, they gradually look to the security of the mystery of God as their primary life illumination.
Turning to God's mysterious light requires that we spiritually squint and make out a clearer reality emerging from the swampyness of the world. We strain to hear the 'changing voice of God;' we eventually discern its call ... away from worldly success, and toward a deeper significance of soul, sure in the safe sanctity of God.
For some maturing adults the prevalence and pervasiveness of change required for growth in the maturing years shakes them; it robs them of their former confidence, personal resolve, and countenance. These elderly adults diminish under the press of change; they can even show perturbed, and sometimes pathologic behaviors. We sometimes mistake these behaviors as signs of "getting old." Yet, how much of the struggle, even suffering, these unfortunate individuals endure is due not to dementia, or any other form of diminishment, but to some need for spiritual change unheeded; change for which they were either unprepared, or which went unheard and unaddressed as the fundamental need for inner life transformation in the renewal years?
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