“In Search of Continual Conversion”
JVE Terry Powers (Tacoma, WA ’19-20)
Seeking purpose and the grace to pursue that purpose is a compelling challenge for all of us but in particular for those of us who are in the second half of our lives. During their monthly community meetings, the Tacoma JV EnCorps members (JVEs) reflect upon their recent community service experiences. As the months have sped by, there has been considerable discussion about the nature of the interactions that the JVEs have with those they serve. Without a doubt, the most memorable experiences have been when grace has guided what has been said and done. It is then that JVEs have been brought to tears and have been given to feeling love rather than responsibility.
For the last two months the Tacoma JV EnCorps group has studied the book Falling Upward by Richard Rohr. The text identifies the two stages of life – the first half when emphasis is put on creating a vessel and the second half when emphasis is on the contents of the vessel. Through reflection and discussion, the JVEs recalled those early years when creating jobs, home, family, and the “life resume” consumed most of their time. Without judgment, there was the realization of how their priorities are different now. Possessions are not as important as they once were. And cultivating deeper connections with others and renewed spirituality have risen in significance. They stopped to question previous assumptions about church, societal values and themselves. As the JVEs shared and grappled with who they were and who they aspire to be, the realization surfaced that this process truly compliments their community service.
The Beatitudes also provide the opportunity for a deeper reflection on purpose and ways of living in Christ. Marcus Grodi points out in the 2014 Life from our Land that the Beatitudes provide all of us with the opportunity for continual conversion. Each step (Beatitude) leads to the next step. Each Beatitude contains potential crisis but when we choose to be detached from sin we experience the reward. It is in being detached from sin that we begin to experience conversion and further alter our inner vessel.
When presiding at the World Youth Day ceremony, Pope Francis shared that “blessed” means “happy” in Greek. The question is, “Are you ready to be happy?” When your natural response to the Beatitudes is to be happy you move yourself from duty to love. When we act out of love for Christ and His creations your inner vessel is in the process of continual conversion, even in the second half of life.