Transitions are part of life, weave days and decades into comprehensible patterns and become the stuff of memories. Transitions are sometimes subtle and endearing; other times, mercilessly abrupt and gut-wrenching. Toddlers discover movement and conversation; youngsters sprout into young adults, into partners and lovers, new families. Seasons roll one into another and storms disrupt the landscape. Individuals explore strengths and locate weaknesses, meet failure and know success, realign goals and rediscover purpose. It happens every day for each of us as the compartments of time slip by. Nothing remains the same, and yet there is that which transcends the change.
In a world wrapped in almost incomprehensible transition, there is something deeper, something abiding within, that sustains through the changes. It can be found in the quiet, in the rich reservoir of soul, in the Faith of living. There is the gift that needs no explanation, that exists beyond the criticism of the cynical, the skeptical, the life worn.
Those moments of transitional spaces are mediated by an awareness of that which is greater than self. To find that space is to acknowledge the sacred in the ordinary, to begin to trust in something that exists beyond the transitions. Technological innovation, failing institutions, shifting customs and shattered norms have shaped a century steeped in change for cultures and persons. And in the midst of all these transitions, there is the possibility of stability in choosing sacred space, a time to celebrate and sometimes to mourn. Faith offers that.
Catholicism offers many avenues to that sacred space, to the reservoir of soul. Faith with its complications is manifest in the promises of earth. There are centuries of testimony, of pathways, of patterns, and there are new ones evolving everyday. Art and music stretch through generations creating the wonder of a Gregorian chant or the inspiration of a Sistine Chapel. Both are proofs of the paths that have allured and challenged human beings and brought new awarenesses and understandings to their lives, opened doorways to faith through transitions. There is the dramatic simplicity of the cross and the intricate splendor of mosaic, efforts to capture what is unchanging in century after century of life transitions and civilizations’ unflagging progress and inevitable failures. There are literally acres of texts, treatises and books crafted with the same intention: hints for pathways to the most sacred of spaces. The possibilities are virtually endless, and yet the purpose, the promise, is the same: there is something beyond the transitions observed in life, something that is unchanging and can be trusted for sustenance and support: Faith.
In a quiet way, Catholicism, in its chapels and churches and cathedrals and its rituals and holidays and practices, offers a chance to find meaning and purpose within transition. There is a paradoxical consistency to transitions just as there is a timelessness to the soul. There is a rhythm to transitions just as there is resilience to the soul. There is personal and communal growth through transitions just as there is life-deepening in nurturing the soul.
That richness makes the scary transitions less frightful and the joyful more meaningful. Catholicsm’s narrative is the assurance that transitions are simply part of the human experience; and there is always a sacred sustaining space for navigating the transitions. Faith.