I watch the gentle rain from the window of my study. The brown grass will soon turn green, and blossoms will bud on the cherry tree now framed by my window. Life and growth of a new season will emerge because of the nourishment of this gentle rain. Similarly, life and growth emerge in our lives as well.
The seasons of our lives bud and bear fruit; then later fade and allow room for more growth. Yet, the ways in which we grow seem almost imperceptible to us until we look more closely at the patterns.
Psychologists have long been fascinated by our growth patterns. The models of growth they present can be categorized into two major groups. Some psychologists have understood our growth as moving from one stage to another along a forward progression. These theorists focus on the highs and lows of life, noting that these often coincide with moments of transition from one phase to another. Other psychologists suggest that our growth is more like an evolving spiral, in which we set out deeper roots while growing into greater wholeness, all the while spiraling around very familiar themes in our lives.
Both ways of understanding spiritual, psychological, and physical growth provide valuable insights. In our lives we often cycle through periods of stability followed by periods of transition. These periods of transition, whether pleasant or challenging, can often lead to opportunities for reintegrating our lives in new ways. However, even along this three step progression from continuity, to transition, to integration, we find that an evolving process is taking place that causes us to root more deeply in what we value and hold dear, while also expanding our sense of self.
In Stumbling Into Life’s Lessons: Reflections on the Spiritual Journey (http://stumbling.loukavar.com), I’ve reflected on my own process of reintegrating aspects of my life that I long valued, while allowing roots to go more deeply in my inner being. This series of essays explores my evolving sense of integration through prayer and meditation, while maintaining a mindful awareness of my environment and focusing in new ways on my work.
In August, I’ll explore these themes in the course, Growing in Wholeness: Spiritual Formation and the Adult Life Span. Using models of adult developmental psychology as metaphors for understand growth in adulthood, there will be exploration, reflection, and discussion about how we move through life’s transitions in ways that will bring greater wholeness. In this class, we will come to better understand ourselves as we continue to evolve and grow as the people we were created to be.