Dynamic Aging Newsletter. Vol 4. A New Year - A New Beginning!
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“We carry around a lot of worldly baggage.” Jo Carson

I love the week between Christmas and the New Year. The hustle and bustle of preparation for the Christmas celebration has ended, the company has come and gone. We can relax, let down, and reflect on the past and the expectations of the new year.  The Roman God, Janus, for whom the month of January is named, is depicted with two faces, one looking backward and another looking forward. So we reflect on the past and take stock of where we are in the journey of life, and make resolutions to ensure that next year will move more satisfactory.

Do you make the same resolutions every year and break them in a week or forget about them within the month? Maybe we need to take a hard look at the motives behind our resolutions. We always want to lose weight. What is the reason: to look more glamorous, or to lord it over our friends, to be healthier, or because we’ve outgrown our clothes? We always resolve to be healthier by exercising and eating healthier foods. But then we have to unpack our addictions to sugar and carbs. And then we are faced with a real test.

Another popular resolution is to clean up, throw out, and reduce clutter. What is the motive behind this decision? Is it guilt over having so much stuff or frustration that we live in a mess? Or, do we desire to make our home and possessions more beautiful and our lives more manageable?

We seem to be afflicted with the disease “affluenza”, a term which describes excessive materialism. In contrast, the pilgrims who walk, The El Camino de Santiago, say, “The weight of your backpack is equal to the weight of your fears.” Shall we unpack our fears around getting rid of some of our “stuff?” What are we afraid of? Is our fear that we might need whatever we throw away? Or is our fear that we won’t be able to replace it once it is gone? Or is our sense of self-worth tied to having lots of unnecessary “stuff?”

Two recent books, which have hit the New York Times best seller list, address the issues around our deep desire to be neat and orderly. Both are by a Japanese woman named, Marie Kondo. One is called, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the other, Spark Joy.  Her advice has come to be known as the KonMari Method. In Tidying Up she insists that every item of clothing be dumped on the floor, and one piece at the time, held up to your face and ask, “does this bring me joy?”  If the answer is yes, you can keep it. If the answer is no, it goes into the throw away, give away bag. In the book, Spark Joy, Marie teaches the art of folding the clothing you have left so that the drawers are neat and everything easily accessible. All this sounds like too much work to me, so I will probably continue to live in my less than orderly home.

“Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” Thomas Jefferson

The word “unpack” has taken on a nuanced meaning in recent years. It has begun to mean to take a hard look at, to delve into the meaning of something, to explore a concept or idea. We do not take an idea at face value, but look at it from many perspectives. 

Since the beginning of human consciousness, humans have longed for a personal relationship with the Divine. They have also searched for a personal relationship with the Divine. They have expressed this searching in the world’s great literature as well as in the Holy Books. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran opened my mind and heart to the beauty of the spiritual longing when I was a young teenager. In the mystical, ecstatic poetry of Rumi and Hafiz, in Mary Oliver’s nature poetry, and in the prayers of St. Francis, we are led to a deeper relationship with the God. In the selfless service of Mother Teresa, and even in the laughter of The Dali Lama, we catch a glimpse of true worship.

I invite you to “unpack” your belief system. Faith is born of honest doubt. What was the belief system of your family? What were the influences, the people, and the rituals, that augmented your faith? When and how did those change? Where are you in your spiritual growth now?

I recommend that you read Hafiz’s poem while you keep in mind Roger Housden’s advise, “Enter a poem with your heart as well as your mind, a tremor of recognition will run through you.”

* The picture above is my beautiful church where I worship every Sunday,  praise God and celebrate my faith.
The Stairway of Existence
Are Not
In pursuit of formalities
Of fake religious
For through the stairway of existence
We have come to God’s Door.
We are
People who need to know love because
Love is the soul’s life.
Love is simply creation’s greatest joy.
The stairway of existence,
O, through the stairway of existence, Hafiz,
Have You now come to
The Beloved’s Door.
In the classic story by Victor Hugo, Les Miserable, as told in the book, the movie, and the stage production, the hero, Jean Val Jean, exemplifies the man of faith who never veers from moral purity no matter the circumstances. He is the Christ figure that suffers for others.

What has been the spiritual tradition that shaped you?  Was your family traditional or conservative, fundamentalist or secular in their beliefs and practices? How have you changed as you have matured and experienced the world?  I challenge you to think deeply about your spiritual journey and to journal about it. Do you believe in God, the same understanding of God that you held as a child? What is the moral code that you live by? What are the limits of your standards? What would be the temptation that would cause you to cross those boundaries? Who do you love and how much do you love? What meeting house, spot in nature or spiritual symbol evokes in you a sense of awe or the presence of God?

Our spiritual practices have become a mixture from many spiritual traditions. We sing songs in worship services that would have been frowned on in years past. We now know people who call themselves, Christian but use Buddhist practices and have symbols of many of the world’s faith traditions in their homes.  They may have a statue of Buddha, a picture of Kuan Yen, a fundamentalist preacher’s art, a Native American dream catcher, Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags and beads as well as, crosses, crucifixes, and pictures of the Madonna. These are reminders of the beliefs of many serious seekers. They augment our faith. So let’s unpack some of the wisdom of different spiritual traditions.

What are the symbols of your faith that are in your home or that you wear? Does your home have an altar or a prayer closet? Do you wear a prayer shawl or a cross?  With an attitude of gratefulness any part of your home can become a sacred space.

One of the most beautiful sacred places that I have visited is Lhasa, the Capital of Tibet, surrounded by majestic Snow covered mountains. A Tibetan prayer wheel reminds me of Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims who prostrate themselves on their knees and never rise. Their arms and heads go forward and their knees slide up to meet their heads. They never rise until they reach the goal of their pilgrimage, as far as 200 miles away. The devotion of the pilgrims is astonishing.

Join Joy Jinks at the Building Creative Communities Conference in Colquitt, GA, this month, January 26 -29, 2017. Click on the image above to be redirected to the website or contact Joy Jinks directly @ 229-220-0123.

REMEMBER TO VISIT to learn more about Joy's book and upcoming events, Dynamic Aging: I Intend to Live Forever. So Far, So Good! You can purchace her book at:

* Several of the images in the newsletter contain links to referenced sites. If you place your courser on an image and a hand appears, click on the link and learn more.

Copyright © 2017 Dynamic Aging, All rights reserved.

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