Plutarch, a Greek biographer and philosopher, once wrote ”time is the wisest of all counselors”.

This may be one of the many reasons we reverence the “elders” of our community; they are seats of wisdom and insight. However, they offer even more than that – they hold within their beings a landscape of understanding that often alludes us. Sister Joan Chittister would say “they have found the treasures of life by losing its trinkets…”.  

The Church would identify these wisdom figures as “mystagogues” – those who are able to look back on their lives, identify significant moments of joy, pain, sorrow – and remember – and more importantly appreciate the sacred mysteries of life. It is the mystagogue who can look to their past and thus appreciate their “present”.  They see with new eyes the sacred presence of God in all its mystery and understand its power to illuminate life. While life may have gone swiftly by, they embrace the deeper meaning of their experiences and allow that to transform their lives in the here and now.

What might this invite us to consider? Can we actually practice looking for signs of the Holy in our daily lives in the here and now? Consider taking time to do the following exercise:



  1. On the line above, write your birth date, age today, and probable life span.
  2. Write down 1 or 2 significant events in your life – your most joyful and saddest moments.
  3. Look back at these times – prayerfully reflect – where might you say “God was truly present”?
  4. Give thanks – for what are you most grateful?
Copryright 2016, Institute for Liturgical and Spiritual Formation.