"NURTURING AUTHENTIC SPIRITUALITY:
Reflections from the 55+ Gathering in ISHAVANI, Pune"
From October 11 to 13, ISHAVANI in Pune witnessed a unique gathering of sisters aged 55 and above, whose journey through life has bestowed upon them the invaluable treasure of experience.
Comprising a group of nine sisters, gathered for an enlightening experience that left them inspired, challenged, and deeply connected. The gathering was marked by insightful sessions, heartfelt reflections, and a deep sense of gratitude, facilitated by Fr. Arun Kumar SJ. focusing on "authentic spirituality" and the profound growth that comes with age.
Authentic Spirituality: The Vertical Growth
Fr. Arun began by exploring the concept of "authentic spirituality," emphasizing that as we age, our growth is not limited to the physical realm; it extends vertically into wisdom and spirituality. This maturation process comes with certain values and the art of aging gracefully. This concept encourages us to embrace not only horizontal growth but also vital vertical growth. As we age, wisdom blossoms and our journey become a quest for God's presence. Maturity and graceful aging bring about a change in attitude. The realization that we've lived more than half of our lives and may have only two decades or so left is a sensible revelation. This perspective prompts us to question if we've nurtured the growth of others as we've grown ourselves. Fr. Arun encouraged the group to not just focus on horizontal growth but also to embrace vertical growth in wisdom and spirituality as they age. The message was clear: change is inevitable, and it is essential to shed old memories and habits to fully embrace the present.
As we collectively acknowledged that we have lived more than half of our lives, we recognized the importance of adjusting our attitudes. Change is a constant, although painful, companion in this journey, but it is a necessary process for shedding old memories and habits, freeing us from the burden of the past, and fully embracing the present.
The Essentials of Religious Life
Fr. Arun also touched upon the essentials of religious life, emphasizing the importance of prayer, a sense of service, and core values. He encouraged us to deepen our connection with Jesus, the way, the life, and the truth and to fall in love with Jesus. Furthermore, he challenged us to contemplate the distinction between the real self and the ideal self, pondering on who we are and who we aspire to become. The session concluded with the presentation of seven personal beatitudes aimed at being effective in our religious lives.
Shared Reflections: Wisdom Shared and Gained
The sisters were unanimous in their appreciation for the gathering and the insights they gained.
Sr. Sujitha expressed her happiness about the age-wise gathering, highlighting the inspiring and challenging input session by Fr. Arun. She expressed her desire to strengthen her relationship with God, and to her companions. She highlighted the importance of faithfulness in her religious life and her intention to engage in daily Bible reading, dedicate more time to God, and cultivate a positive and joyful attitude.
Sr. Archana praised the systematic organization of the event by Sr. Geeta and found the group sharing and the input session by Fr. Arun S.J enlightening, touching and inspiring. The group sharing brought them closer together, and the picnic added to their joy and made it a memorable experience.”
Sr. Sherly, in her reflection, highlighted the significance of the gathering as a time of coming together, listening to one another, and experiencing communion and sisterly love. She commended Sr. Geeta for her excellent organization and found Fr. Arun's class to be a reminder of the importance of deepening her prayer life and encouraging others to fall in love with Jesus and His life-giving words. She also appreciated the deep commitment of the sisters during the sharing sessions. The picnic provided relaxation and visiting the War Memorial instilled great respect for the life and dedication of the Indian Army.
Sr. Jacintha found the talk inspiring, insightful, and down-to-earth, and hoped for more such sessions in the future. She also expressed her gratitude to those who put in the effort to make the event memorable.
A Transformational Experience
For Sr. Navya, the three-day gathering was a meaningful and enjoyable experience. She emphasized the importance of sharing and growing together, appreciating the wisdom shared by Fr. Arun. She acknowledged the personal growth experienced during the sessions and the sense of unity fostered through shared experiences. The picnic brought the group closer to God through the beauty of nature.
Sr. Stella commended the gathering for providing a platform for genuine life-sharing. She highlighted the challenges and inspiration drawn from the input session and emphasized the group's responsibility to be faithful in prayer life and to become models for the younger generation. She valued the ample time for relaxation and enjoyment.
Sr. Mary summed up the group's sentiments, expressing the joy they experienced despite their numbers. Fr. Arun Kumar's insightful talk left a permanent mark, motivating her to be more faithful in her prayer life and engage in spiritual readings and Bible reflections. The group's outings to historical sites in Pune added to the overall enriching experience.
A Call to Gratitude and Contemplation
Sr. Geeta summarized the sentiment of the gathering when she stated, "Now is not the stage of achievements but more of gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise, going back to the essentials of life. It's a call to be more authentic and contemplative." This stage in life is not primarily about achievements but centers on gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise. It's an opportunity to focus on being rather than doing or having.
Sr. Anjali, who expressed her happiness at being a part of the gathering, commended Sr. Geeta for her efforts in organizing the event. She praised the experience of communion, sharing, and inspiration and highlighted the importance of Fr. Arun's input session. She also mentioned enjoying the movie and outings, as well as the excellent food, accommodation, and daily prayers, including Holy Mass.
In conclusion, the 55+ gathering in ISHAVANI, Pune, was a testament to the value of coming together, reflecting, and growing as individuals and as a group. The event was marked by wisdom, inspiration, and gratitude, and it left a lasting impact on all participants. It serves as a reminder that regardless of age, there is always room for growth, transformation, and a deepening of spirituality. The words of Fr. Arun Kumar SJ continue to resonate, challenging each participant to grow and serve, fall in love with Christ, and find their true selves.