Reading List: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t be writing this post as I’m only half way through Richard Rohr’s new book “Falling Upward”, but that’s just how good it is ! Rohr doesn’t miss much and his books and teachings should be a part of anyone’s life and spiritual survival gear.

As the subtitle “A spirituality for the two halves of life” suggests, it is a beautiful window for those of us embarking on the second half. But I like the line in the forward, “People at any age must know about the whole arc of their life and where it is tending and leading”. It makes me think of us parents trying to teach our children that they way they think now, and choices they make now, will affect them later on. That all of your life is connected.

I love his quote from Desmond Tutu who said “We are only the light bulbs, Richard, and our job is just to remain screwed in”. To me that says to be present as much as we can in our lives. To see the beauty in everything. To find God in everything. To remain open and aware that nobody has all the answers.

Here is another moving quote “Transformation is often more about unlearning than learning, which is why the religious traditions call it “conversion” or “repentance”. For me the unlearning goes hand in hand with letting go of all my junk. Letting go of my prejudice , my small inclusive thinking, and that my culture holds all the answers.

Rohr always challenges me to expand and let the love of God do the work. His words always ring true in my heart, perhaps my best barometer. Let me know what you think.

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Eden: Do you Remember Yours?

I went to a mens retreat recently. The speakers general framework was that we’ve all lived in Eden and we have all had it shattered at some point in our lives.

There was a time in our lives that all seemed right with the world. Times when we thought everything was in harmony and all is the way it is supposed to be. There is a gentleness and a safe feeling to that Eden. We feel protected and connected. We are in love with the world.

Then as the speaker says, “a snake comes into our garden”! Tragedy strikes. Sometimes it strikes slow and long over a period of time and sometimes as swift and cruel as a raging river. The snake. Abuse, broken trust. An improper touch, cigarettes out on a childs forearm. Divorce, death, the desertion of a friend. betrayal. How quickly Eden goes away. How much time we live longing for just a little taste of Eden. Of harmony. Of peace. And how much time we can spend living in the tragedy, recycling our pain, constantly fighting the same pain. Not letting go. Easier said than done if you ask me.

Do you remember your own Eden ? Do you remember the snake? How was it or is it being dealt with? Some turn to God, some to vices. Some get and stay mean, always looking for an opportunity to vent. We all know one of these and perhaps we can all be those people in degrees.

So if you remember your Eden, do you also remember the times or moments that you felt a gentle hand saying it was all going to be OK? Do you remember when the veil was thing enough to feel God, the presence of the divine? Those are not always easy. I remember feeling that presence in the shape of a hug after hurting my wife. After severing a trust. Me, the offender being given grace by the offended. A powerful moment that I could only describe as pure love, the love of the Creator.

I’d love to hear your thoughts my friends and readers. It’s heavy stuff, but we have to work through it. All of our losses of Eden are affecting us in one way or another. Especially if we don’t think they are.

Eden didn’t only happen with Adam and Eve. It is happening right now and if we look we can find moments, however brief, moments of peace and clairty. Moments of joy, of Gods grace.

Tragedy happens, we can’t avoid it, but we don’t have to live in it forever. I am in the constant state of working through my tragedies and reaching through the veil. Sometimes I do good, sometimes not so good. It’s part of living in the spiral of life.

The Expectation you have is the result you’ll get

Results usually follow anticipation. Is that kind of like “be careful what you ask for?”. I’ve been thinking a little about expectations, about how if they are misguided then my outcome is probably going to be something I don’t like.

This thought has been rattled around in relationships through the years. In my marriage, at times, I’ve somehow unconsciously and non vocally expected things. Then when they don’t happen, the disappointment appears. The first bump is that others aren’t supposed to read your mind. Second bump is considering if that expectation was a reality on the other persons side.

Lately I’ve had the thread of this idea in my head concerning Bible reading. I have tried and tried, but I’m just not a Bible reader. It’s great if I want to get more confused or if I can’t sleep, but to read hoping some vibrant clear message that will clarify my life will drop out, well then, that’s just never happened. Now other people have interpreted something from the Bible and that is great. I always wonder if they have been reading the same thing I was. So there goes that expectation thing again. I’m beginning to see that my expectations of the Bible needed tweaking if I was ever going to have a shot of finding it a good read. I’m learning. Not a Bible reader yet, but I am understanding the sense in which it was written and what it was meant to be.

The same view of God holds true. I held a childlike view way too long. A simple good vs bad thing. I used God as an insurance policy, and at the very least a “get out of jail free” card. You know, we’ve all done it, “God if you just get me out of this mess, I will ___”. I’ve found He/She is no genie, no puppeteer . So as my expectations change my outlook and my journey changes. I look within as much as I can, and I stumble often. I’m still busy being human, but I think God is just thinking “Well, what ya gonna do with them, they are only human”. I’m learning to lean on mercy, grace and love, not damnation, hellfire and discouragement. Learning to except that we are all loved, every life on this planet, loved just the same by the one Creator, giver of life. What an astonishing thought. Makes me reach to be more inclusive. Like folks have said about Jesus “never saw him build a wall, just a bridge”.

.It’s a little early and not enough coffee in the bloodstream yet, so I hope this post has made some sense and touches you somewhere on your path.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these things, it’s the best way for me to grow and you never know how your thoughts can touch someone else.