“This is the point at which people begin to realize the limits of logic and start to accept the paradox in life. They begin to see life as a mystery and often return to sacred stories and symbols, but this time without being stuck in a theological box.”
James Fowler (Stages of Faith)
A lot has been written about this particular stage of faith—that very few people reach it, that it's part of a mid-life crisis. In some ways it could be called a crisis of faith, since it is a stage at which many people leave the religion of their childhood and young adulthood. Life experience teaches us that our religion doesn't always reward us in the ways we expect it to: bad things do happen to very good people, inexplicable harm comes to little children, sometimes evil wins over good. We lose faith in the “hand of God” to restore the world and us to health, and to right the wrongs of humanity.
Another way of looking at this stage is that it is the one in which our spirituality comes alive. It expands and takes on a life of its own. It moves out of the confines of religious dogma and wakes to the mystery of divine creation. Now the stories from the Bible and other scripture, as well as fairy tales and myths, begin to make sense and have relevance to our flesh and blood selves. I AM the Prodigal Son, I AM the blind beggar, or the woman at the well. I understand what it means to be Inanna in the underworld being turned into green meat and hung on a hook, or to be touched by the healing compassion of Kwan Yin. We see these and many more stories within us, numinous, with beating hearts. This is ripe spirituality.
To the extent we find a spiritual path that has authentic depth for us, we feel secure and unafraid to face our future. When we simply turn our backs on all of it, with nothing to fill our human need for connection to the sacred, both within and without, we become cynical and bitter. This stage of faith more than any other is a turning point that determines how we will live out the final half of life—with integrity or mistrust.
In the Spirit,