I recall with absolute clarity hearing an uncle whom I just adored tell his wife, my favorite aunt, “Oh my God, Gen, I’m sixty-years-old now. I’m an old man.”
I saw genuine fear on his face. He really was terrified of aging, of becoming an “old man”, as he put it. And he did just that. He disintegrated in front of our eyes. He cooperated with the breakdown of his body every step of the way, nurturing depression and self-pity. My uncle never saw age 65.
I was not even in my twenties at the time when he, in his own way, plotted his own gradual evaporation from life. Prior to turning 60, he was vibrant, funny, and full of life. One day, one birthday, had the psychic clout to suck the oxygen out of his will to live. It was astonishing to witness, quite frankly. That imprinted me, though I did not appreciate how much or how deeply until I reached my fifties. And even then, I had no idea much emotional contamination from his aging trauma remained in my own system until I approached my 60th birthday.
I have always believed in giving myself a birthday present. (By the way, my birthday isn’t until December, so I am not looking for birthday greetings). I’ve given myself outrageous gifts, foolish ones, thoughtful ones, lavish ones, spiritual ones – you name. My gifts became more meaningful by far, however, by the time I was in my fifties. The category of “stuff” ceased to mean anything to me at all. And that is so liberating. Ending the era of being your own version of a “stuffologist” is pure bliss. Having more shifts to doing more, becoming more, creating more, contributing to others more, writing more, loving more, sharing more. The more part of your life is all that matters.
When I turned 60, I gave myself the gift of creative freedom. What did I want to create? Where did I want to teach? And what did I want to teach? For years I governed my workshops by careful parameters. You’re probably wondering what I mean by that. The workshops I am doing this autumn, for example, are two workshops I would never have done prior to my sixties. But they are two of the workshops I have most wanted to do.
The idea of creating two workshops around mystical themes allows me to offer instruction from the deepest teachings in mystical theology. The September workshop is a tour of Croatia highlighting a three-day workshop at the sacred site of Medjugorje, known for the mystical apparitions of the Madonna. These visions are still occurring.
Mystical theology is the treasure chest of the work of Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross as well as Francis of Assisi. Mary Magdalene has made a significant leap to the ranks of a mystic, if not much more, in recent years, especially since the discovery of The Gospel of Mary, credited to her, in 1896. The October workshop on the Sacred Feminine was created around exploring the hidden life of Mary Magdalene and her role as the mystical disciple, wife of Jesus, and as a symbol for the emerging age of feminine or intuitive intelligence. This incredible tour takes place through the south of France. Mary Magdalene was canonized as a saint this year – finally, after centuries of her status as a prostitute. Soon her real identity might well emerge – that she was more than likely the wife of Jesus. Recently a small parchment of sacred text emerged that apparently passed the exhaustive examination of Middle East scripture scholars in which Jesus refers to Magdalene as his wife. Extraordinary timing. I have wanted to go to these places in France that hold the secrets of the people who held her secrets. These places still pulsate with the energy of their ceremonies and rituals – and their brutal deaths.
I love that I am at that age where I feel free enough to speak openly about the mystical theology and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. That this gospel was only discovered last century is fascinating to me, as is all timing around sacred events. But equally intriguing – if not even more fascinating – is exploring the significance of the reanimation of these historic, sacred figures today, because they actually are “reanimating”. They are once again active psychic agents in our collective consciousness. Why? They have become archetypal players again, showing up in films, animations, and literature. They are once again influencing our lives, whether we travel to them or stay at home.
I have long wanted to go where they once walked. Like so many people, I have amassed a regret list as well as a bucket list. I put off doing a number of things in my life because I have always had commitments of one thing or another – workshops, deadlines – you get the picture. But now I feel that I have reached that age where I can speak more openly about the hidden realm, mysticism, and the wonders of all things holy and Sacred. And so I am doing workshops that provide the setting – not to mention the grace. (All of this is just another way of saying I intend to have fun with the rest of my life and I hope I meet a whole lot of you along the way.)