“Most of the growth in the second half of life has the look and feel of loss.” Ani Liggett, Ph.D, in her amazing book on Midlife Transitions, When Midlife Women Leave Home in Search of Authenticity, (2009) says essentially that midlife loss and change bring us deep consciousness equivalent to any spiritual practice such as meditation, prayer, or a variety of other practices that teach you to remain open and aware in the present moment.
The gift of a Midlife Call, a wake up call to start noticing what’s here, is that the loss and changes will transform you. “Loss never leaves you where it finds you,” she says, “It changes you deeply, makes room for you to grow.”(p.142-3). She also says, “Grief is an inevitable part of this journey. Embarking on a spiritual path can be one long process of grieving, accepting and letting go.”
I love the way Oriah Mountain Dreamer says it in her book, The Call: “I have heard it all my life, a voice calling a name I recognized as my own. Sometimes it comes as a soft-bellied whisper. Sometimes it holds an edge of urgency. There is nowhere to go. What you are looking for is right here. Open the fist clenched in wanting and see what you already hold in your hand. All you have ever longed for is here in this moment, right now.” This speaks to our need to stop, listen, wait and allow ourselves the opportunity to go deeper into our spiritual selves —to listen for our Call.
As these words passionately grip your soul, how are you feeling about this moment in your life right now? Whatever challenge you are facing, can you stop and notice your essence, your wholeness, your deep desire to find more connection and meaning in your life? This is your call. This is a spiritual yearning and it’s very much a part of our midlife voyages through grief and loss and rebirth. Sometimes this yearning is pointed out to us, through an encounter with someone; or maybe we feel it after deep grief that we couldn’t understand this message earlier because it was buried deep inside of us and the grief uncovered it.
If you can embrace your fear and confusion, naming it for what it is, the unknown can be a darker place where you remain for a while. This takes trusting yourself and your deep knowing that this is part of the change process. Something has to die in us for us to make a major reorientation of our consciousness—and usually this letting go into the next phase has to do with a Call— a call to something deeper within us.
This Call and Spiritual Journeying is depicted in Joseph Campbell’s archetypal male Hero’s Journey. His call is to go alone into the physical world, slay a dragon of sorts, acquire new powers and come back transformed. However this is specifically named a man’s life transition process. Women’s spiritual journey is different. She crosses a threshold and goes deeper inward rather than outward.
The great Sumerian Goddess Inanna, Queen of Heaven in pre-patriarchial times, depicts this sacred feminine spiritual journey by going down into the Underworld, “the unknown,” alone. Her handmaiden stays above and witnesses her journey. She meets her shadow and her shadow kills her and hangs her body on a meat hook in the Underworld. The Handmaiden’s presence saves her by finding her somehow with water that retrieves her light. She is resurrected and reborn.
Terry Ray, Boulder Women’s Dharma Teacher, spoke about it this way, “The Heroine’s Journey is about internal surrendering. It is about allowing yourself to meet your shadow, to share life with others, to remove your identity to nothingness, struggle with obstacles and change forever. Friends are essential to this journey because presence helps us stay aware of ourselves. Our lightness helps us be aware of more shadow or helps us bring acceptance of all of our negative qualities.”
Spiritual maturity is the ability to live with ambiguity and uncertainty. This is the Resilient New You who emerges from your Midlife Voyage to Transformation.
To learn more about how to hear your call, and listen for the tools for your Sacred Feminine Journey, come to my FREE WORKSHOP on May 14th and learn where you are on your Midlife Voyage to Transformation. Here’s the link to register.