In the Spirit of Jubilee: Assess, Take Stock, Evaluate the Past

Charlotte A. Tomaino

Why does the spiritual practice of Jubilee continue to exist over the centuries? Why do the trumpets continue to sound and ‘the ears that can hear’ continue to follow the call? When you return to the inner world, where ‘the land that lies fallow’ is reached, how do you hallow that land and what are its riches that you seek? What is the purpose of this spiritual journey for you?

Some have described this life review as ‘looking into the glassy waters of the pool of you’ to see deeply and find the treasures that lie below. Others have talked of looking at the outer world of people and possessions that day-to-day choices have brought together in your life. All are for the purpose of getting insights into where those choices came from, why they were made and whether they are still life giving. There are many methods that have been developed for taking an inventory of the past 50 years.

One such exercise has to do with opening your closet door (or drawer, or cabinet or box…) and observing what is there. Looking at each item and recalling ‘the story’ of why you chose it, how you have used it, what it has meant to you, who gave it to you or who liked it, what is its purpose now and what is its future?

Aren’t these the thoughts that come to mind each time the seasons change and clothes are removed from the closet? How often do you wear it, why do you choose it, where do you go in it?

We do what we do because it generates an inner state we feel called to: Intuition, inspiration, curiosity, purpose, meaning that brings a sense of happiness, satisfaction or being your best self.

Then there is the suggestion that it may be time to part with clothes in your closet if there has been one year or two years since it has been worn. That approach often works to clean out the closet but sometimes there are things that seem to stay. The scarf Mom knitted, is now out of fashion and no longer worn but tucked away, nonetheless.

An inventory of your closets points to what is important to you, what continues to touch your heart or remains unresolved and is yearning for completion. Cleaning the closet can look like housekeeping but it often turns into a walk down memory lane where all the ‘intangibles’ of the inner closet await. In fact, there are many closets and drawers and cabinets and boxes… in the inner world. Some hold treasures of your greatest delights, some hold past challenges you have overcome and now offer you wisdom and strength while still others hold your deepest unresolved pain. These insights represent the life experiences that have shaped who you have become.

The outer world we have constructed
is a reflection of the inner world of our
thoughts, emotions and choices.

Neuroscience now tells us that each of these experiences activate ‘molecules of emotion.’ There is chemistry moving inside you when your heart sings or sinks at the sight of an object. When your heart sings, it produces chemistry that physically strengthens you, bringing you a reason to continue to be here. When your heart sinks, there is chemistry that drains you, warns you or stops you in your tracks. This is nature’s way of guiding you toward health / ease and away from dis-ease. To stay too long in the heart that is sinking is not a healthy, desirable state but represents valuable information to guide you.

The inner inventory is where we find life’s lessons that lead to wisdom. Here is the muck where the ‘pearl of great price’ grows because of the friction that smooths and perfects it. Don’t stay in the muck too long while doing this inventory. The chemistry isn’t good for your health. Grabbing the pearl while you are there, letting the wisdom guide you forward and sharing your wisdom with others creates the best chemistry your body could wish for.

Of course, it is up to you how you will do this inventory. The entry point for the hallowed land varies for each of us. Will you go in the morning or the stillness of night? Will you climb the hill to have your insights expanded by the view or sit on the rock next to the stream to feel the flow of Spirit within? Maybe you will light your candle, put on reflective music and sit in your favorite chair with your pen and journal in hand. Follow what ever calls you to that peaceful place which offers a breadth and depth of vision.

Reflection Topics and Questions

What is the path to your inner world that is calling you in this time of taking stock of the past fifty years? Which are the most meaningful questions that grab your attention, intrigue your mind and touch your heart? Notice how you respond to these questions.

  • What did I choose?
  • What did I plant?
  • What fruits came from this soil of mine?
  • What have I learned?
  • Who have I become?

Usually this reflection is most productive if you ‘pick the low-hanging fruit.’ Take the first things that come to mind and move on to see the bigger picture.

If you feel called to expanding on these questions, you may want to pursue the Jubilee Inventory. This inventory is for the purpose of discovering, at this stage of life:

  • What is most important, meaningful and life-giving for you?
  • What is the cream that has risen to the top of these 50 years?
  • What is worth continuing?
  • What is over and complete and no longer life-giving?
  • What would a healthy and fulfilling future look like?

There are many dimensions to life that have come across your path in this time. On the page Jubilee Inventory (linked below), you will see the following list of categories that each contain questions which may be helpful to you for reflection.

Jubilee Inventory

Defining Choices
Love: Receiving
Love: Giving
International Experience
Peak Experiences

Glance over these topics and let them speak to you. Go back and select the three topics that resonate as most meaningful to you and call your attention. Then go to the Jubilee Inventory file attached here which contains the questions for each topic and sit with just those three topics letting them guide you. You may want to sit with only one topic or one question with each reflection you do. You may want to just notice what brings you joy, what is currently active in your life or is now complete, and what awaits you on the horizon of your future.

Another choice can be found in the exercise entitled, Harvesting Your Wisdom: Reflection Notes which is another attached file directing you to consider the past fifty years in seven year cycles. Here you observe:

  • Who were the people who guided and influenced you?
  • What were the significant moments and events?
  • What did each phase contribute to the continuum of your life?
  • How did your relationship with Maryknoll influence your choices?

This is one of the exercises used for the Maryknoll Renewal Program at Watch Hill.

Those who enjoy writing can adapt the Harvesting Your Wisdom: Reflection Notes and simply write the highlights of your life in those seven year cycles and see what emerges from the story.

Most importantly, enjoy the process of this reflection. Take pride in your accomplishments and the challenges you faced. Move on from what is not life giving for you and embrace what intrigues, delights and calls you.

All of these methods will give you a perspective on possible patterns in your life. Remember, this is ‘taking stock,’ not taking action. There will be time in the coming months to see what you want to do, after you see where you are. Trends, preferences and the steps you took in your growth and development help you see what you have experienced, what you have learned, and who you have become, which guides you in where you want to go.  

Suggestions: These reflections are offered in the Spirituality of Jubilee: a means to explore your inner spiritual world through reflection, centering, stillness, listening, dreams, images, words, art, and ritual to capture the threads of who you are now and what remains for your fulfillment in the future.

You are here to fulfill what you came for by following the call you alone are hearing.

Please consider sharing your process and discoveries with all of us here at the bottom of this page.

Next: The Jubilee Inventory

3 Responses to In the Spirit of Jubilee: Assess, Take Stock, Evaluate the Past

  1. Sr Joseph Paul Manderine CSJB says:

    Living in the present moment with deep gratitude has surfaced deep within me and I
    Want to stay with this for awhile.

  2. Charlotte Tomaino says:

    Living in the present moment with deep gratitude is the place where the guidance of the Spirit awaits us all. Opening to the consciousness of love and appreciation to receive and know is grace guiding and mercy unfolding.

  3. Peg says:

    Giving up one’s personal agenda and being keenly aware of the gift of present moment is incredibly freeing, opening up to the Spirit within and all around demands letting go. This act of letting go can be tricky because relinquishing control can be a little scary, like walking on a rope without a net. Then again, I suppose the Holy Spirit is our net. I find myself continually amazed at the miracle of grace. The challenge is to listen deeply with heart, mind and spirit and then to give over God those things that in the past I would have struggled to “fix”.

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