Our fatherly heart can become doubled or even squared in wisdom and loving capacity as we grow older, transforming into the grandfatherly heart: another archetype of the Sacred Masculine. When we become freed from the daily burdens of work, career and raising of children we become more like we were when we were young–our time is more our own, and our heart can focus more on what matters. On what remains.
Elders are often neglected in US society, which tends to value people for their consuming power (“I buy therefore I am”). Older men have a tremendous amount to share with younger generations. Time and experience, laughter and a certain detachment from everyday life—all that wisdom can be shared between the oldest and the youngest in society. But this wisdom does not spring forth of its own accord: for elders to play their rightful role they need to stay alive and stay in love with life. They need to continue to care, give, listen, look to the future, encourage, see the big picture, be playful, protect and instruct. Elders are teachers about the deeper aspects of life itself. And the young seek out their wisdom, love of life, and humor….
A hundred years ago 4 percent of Americans were over 65, whereas today 18 percent are. During recorded history, only about 10 percent of people lived to be 65, but today about 80 percent of Americans will live to that age and beyond.
What will we do with our later years, our “retirement” years? How will men spend their time once they leave the “daily grind”? One way is to retire the word “retirement” and replace it with refirement and rewirement. The fire inside can connect to the fire of young people; and because our later years are more mystical a rewirement occurs that takes us back to our youth.
Meister Eckhart believes that our soul can become “as young as the day it was created.” Indeed, he felt “I am younger today than I was yesterday, and if I am not younger tomorrow than I am today, I would be ashamed of myself.” Youth is a state of soul, and if one has decently nurtured one’s soul, one can maintain its pristine joyfulness and spontaneity. For me one of the signs of a healthy older person is the presence of this child-like joy of life.
Adapted from: Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 199, 201, 205, 206
Banner image: “Abuelo y nieto en la playa” by Mariana Gamboa, PublicDomainPictures.net
Queries for Contemplation
Reflect on your relationship with your grandfather if he was living when you were young. How do you remember memories he shared with you? What wisdom did he pass on to you?
For those of you who are grandfathers, reflect on the kind of memories you are leaving with your grandchildren.
Sit in silence. Call in the grandfathers. Be with them. Listen deeply.
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”