As adults in the stage of generativity seek to pass on life to the next generation, they may find themselves asking, “What do I really have to pass on?” As they try to answer this question, they may discover in themselves not generativity but what Erickson describes as its alternative: stagnation. Stagnation is the feeling of having forfeited my contribution to life in my age, a contribution that would have been handed down to future generations. A crisis of meaning may occur as adults like the heartbroken Gandhi discover stagnation in their lives and begin to think, “I had these dreams and they never got fulfilled. I’m not doing the things I really wanted to do. I am just on a treadmill, keeping in motion but not receiving life or giving it. I haven’t put my stamp on anything. Time and energy are running out. I have to take a different direction or my life will continue hollow and empty.” This search for a deeper and more meaningful way of living often involves a confrontation with inner darkness…. –‘Healing the Eight Stages of Life’
You may wish to pray this way for a few moments each day with your spouse or another person with whom you have a primary relationship.
A. Get in touch with how you need’s Jesus’ help.
B. Share it with each other.
C. Let one person give prayer and the other receive. If you are giving prayer, get in touch with your love and God’s love for the other person. Reach out as Jesus within you wants to reach out and simply fill the other for five minutes. The person receiving simply breathes in love (Jesus’ love within each other).
D. Reverse roles.
If you are alone, imagine yourself holding hands with Jesus and a person who loves you. For five minutes breathe in their love for you. Then, ask Jesus what the person who loves you most needs. With Jesus (or Mary) breathe Jesus’ healing love into that person..
Knowing that I always feel better when I was in the presence of couples who loved each other in a healthy way, I decided when praying alone to ask for the presence of Joseph and Mary, who were the healthiest couple that ever lived. So, I began asking Jesus to take me home with him and share with me his experience of growing up in the atmosphere of healthy love between a man and a woman. I would see myself entering Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem or his home in Nazareth and hear his family greet me. Then I would breathe In the atmosphere of their love for one another, and breathe out any feelings of fear or darkness. Gradually, I began to take in Mary’s healthy feminine identity and feel that I deserved to be treated as lovingly and trustworthily as Joseph treated her. I began to breathe in Joseph’s trustworthy love and know that other men would be equally trustworthy.
After several months of prayer and of being in the presence of healthy relationships, all my symptoms of sexual abuse disappeared. I no longer felt frightened, frozen, guilty or full of grief. During one prayer time, the ‘iron knot’ in my abdomen seemed to dissolve, and I never felt it again. I began to dress attractively and stand up straighter. People who had not seen me for several months told me I seemed like a different person. And that is how I felt. —Healing the Eight Stages of Life
Today is a birthday, never meaning that much. Another year gone past. My laptop is being repaired, forcing smart phone documentation and posting. I have distanced myself from posting personal revelations, enjoying a marvelous vacation. Effervescent, thoughts bubble and burst. Prayer roots itself as a grounding. In discretely, lacking concrete form, ideas from Healing the Eight Stages of Life settle upon consciousness, including the subconscious
Besides being divided into thinkers and feelers, we are also divided into intuitives and sensates. Intuitive people dream, live in the future, and have considered all the possible questions even before the teacher ask one. They are ready and can respond quickly. In contrast, sensate people live in the present, taking in all the data. A sensate is considered not about the question the teacher is going to write on the blackboard, but that no one has erased the blackboard well and that the chalk is too short. It takes an intuitive person only one second to answer the teacher’s question, but even if a sensate knows the answer it takes three seconds to give it–three times as long. Many teachers won’t wait three times as long, but instead label the student as slow and therefore will ask another student….
We can be hurt not because we don’t have gifts, but because we don’t have the gifts that school rewards….Hurts in this stage, especially those which lead us to earn love by working harder, may lead to a Type A personality striving, always obsessed with achievement and duty regarding God’s love..
While Type A people often succeed and learn to earn love by trying hard, other less successful people learn not to try at all. You might call them Type Z. The Type Z person learns that he will fail at whatever he tries, so he tends to say, “Let them do it. I don’t want to try anything new because I will probably fail”. Both Type A and Type Z need to discover that they are good and their worth doesn’t depend on success or failure. They both need GK Chesterton advice that “if something is worth doing at all, it is worth doing poorly”.
We can also relate to God with the perfectionism of Type A or the sloth of Type Z. We can mistakenly feel God is reacting like a teacher or parent, loving us more if we do well and less if we fail. We go to mass or do good works to earn God’s love rather than his grateful responses to God loving us so much. But God’s love doesn’t turn on and off like a water faucet. God is a father who sun rises on the just and unjust (Mt 5:45) and a mother who loves us whether we are competent or incompetent, whether we have worked a full day or an hour (Mt 20:1-17). God’s love doesn’t fluctuate but rather we fluctuate in our capacity to receive God’s love. Sunday mass and good works are not to convince God to love us. Rather, they open us to receive God’s ever-present, infinite love and enable us to share it….
While the Type A person is tempted to Pelagian earning of God’s love by trying to work and pray more perfectly, the Type Z person is tempted to dismiss the value of any work or prayer. The Type Z will dismiss her ability to pray, to listen to God in Scripture, to have a personal relationship with God, or to learn more about God. In contrast, the true mystic doesn’t rely on her ability to pray well, nor does she give up because she can’t pray well. The true mystic knows that God’s love is an unknown gift and she longs to pray even when she can’t pray.
A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in the nest of a backyard hen. The eagle hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the backyard chickens did, thinking he was a backyard chicken. He scratched the Earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the Eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.
The old Eagle looked up in the awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.
“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds, ” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth–we are chickens.”
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.
–Healing the Eight Stages of Life quoting Anthony DeMello ‘The Song of the Bird’
A powerful meditation on expectations from ‘Healing the Eight Stages of Life.
In one experiment called the ‘Self-Fulfilling Prophecy’, researchers told elementary teachers: “We are going to test your students to find spurters, the students who will blossom this year. ” After the testing they gave each teacher a list of the students who would be spurters. At the end of the year they retested the students and found that in each classroom the five students designated as spurters had advanced as much as three years in one year’s time, and their IQ scores had risen 12 – 36 points. The teachers were ecstatic and asked the researchers to return each year to identify the spurters. The researchers replied something like this: “You really don’t need us. We just took five names at random. You thought these five would be spurters so you paid extra attention to them. You had more positive expectations each time you ask them a question and so they answered in a way that would meet your expectations. Every student is shaped by your expectations”.
A story from ‘Healing the Eight Stages of Life’.
One wise mother told us how she prayed for a son, Michael. When Michael was in the autonomy stage, he found his baby brother dead in his crib one morning. Michael loved his roommate brother and was heartbroken. Two years later, five year old Michael was refusing to go to school. Since he was doing well in school and had many friends, Michael’s mother knew there must be something else bothering him. She was led to take Michael back to the scene of his brother’s death.
“Mike, can you see your bedroom and Jesus in the corner?”
“Let Jesus take you over to the crib and show you Tom the morning you found him dead. What is Jesus saying and doing?”
“Jesus has his hand on my shoulder and he is sad. He says Tom died not because of anything I did but because he wasn’t made right.”
“Do you fear that I to might die or get hurt if you go to school?”
“What does Jesus say?”
“He says he will never leave me.”
I like this story from ‘Healing the Eight Stages of Life’, a return to innocence in order to move forward in innocence. I am currently conducting a fast, a Master Cleanse, three days into the cleanse and detox process, after a preceding day of only fruit and granola bars. It is amazing the clarity of mind a fast induces. It is astounding to receive communion while the body is allowed to heal itself, taking a break from the overindulgent eating I tend to involve myself in. The psychology behind the fast is important, examining and contemplating eating habits. What is the purpose of eating? Stripping myself of meals, the reality strikes that hunger is not the driving force behind my eating. Entertainment and pleasure is the true motivating force. God is good and all giving. The clarity of mind brings about a deeper peace calling forth intention. I am learning to leave most of that behind, decreasing and losing, while focusing on how I want to live the rest of my life. The religious life appears as a dream, yet a sublime refuge upon a mental mountaintop I am convinced is the proper place for such relief from the world. It is a life to aspire toward, not to pursue. It becomes more and more evident my deeper healing comes from learning to live a simple life of anonymity, work, and peace—responsibility and accountability daily factors—stripping and then stripping some more, learning to accept and abide in my place in the world, not even the desire to be a religious aficionado calling forth thought and behavior. The significant other eases into greater emergence. There are little moments absolutely sealing the deal. Kayaking she slipped and lost her balance entering her kayak, falling to the shore. Her vulnerability appeared precious. How could I not love her? Hospice volunteer work has receded for the time being. Many thoughts there, yet I will allow them to shape and form rather than be expressed. I am content in giving everything to bringing about a lasting relationship abiding within the love of Christ, a relationship uniting me with a significant other. The healing and revealing of the Father in all His majesty existing within the muddy and splendid details of sharing with one who entrenches herself soundly and firmly within my heart and mind. It is off to take a nap.