Journey on

I used to have a distant thought that there were two events that really connected us as humans. We were all born and we all must pass. The “dash on the tombstone dates” as Kevin Welch calls it, is where we all went our own way. While some similarities and parallel roads occurred, we didn’t reconvene on the big stuff till the end.

Now I’m beginning to shape the idea that while it looks different for us all, the “dash” is the thread that connects those two events for us as individuals of course but also as the family of man. The children of one Creator/ Creation.

I think that “thread” is answering in our spirits, the questions of the big mystery, or thinking we need to have the answer. When Richard Rohr talks about the impossibility of successful dualism, I think of how we understand it in our minds but our hearts refuse to get on board. But our heart, our spirit, is the Creator talking and in that there is no duality. The duality comes from the Creator, our spirit wanting us to progress and grow but our humanity, our culture, religion, fear and shame tell us we don’t really deserve it.

Those that dare to step into the dance of the unknown, to trust the Creator have never said they have all the answers. In reality the deeper they step into the unknown it’s understood that answers aren’t the interesting part. Answers are no longer the desire. Reality and connection, then relationship comes from the journey. The ebb and flow, the tides of the spiral. That’s where the meat is.

If not having the answers keeps us questioning and trying to connect everyday then that is a much better spirituality than thinking you have the answers. Because if you do think you have the answers, then the tendency is to camp out there and also to begin telling others what the answers are. Even reading that back to myself seems ludicrous, yet we all have participated in that. But hopefully we will trust that the Creator is bigger than religion, bigger than culture and that answers were never meant to be the goal.

If you don’t agree and you want to hold onto your traditions as though they are the holy part, then that’s fine. I just hope you give others the grace to hold onto what they feel in their hearts is the breath of the divine. If you get too far away from your brothers and sisters you will only see what separates you, not the thread of hunger to connect with the wonder and holy that lives in all of us.

Many Native people believe that those closest to the Creator are the infants that just came from God and the old ones who are about to return. They have a peace about them. I hope I can live in that peace with enough time to enjoy it and for my children to see it.

Peace to you all. Aho

 

The Searcher

I am a pain in the ass. I know this to be true. I have always been the questioner which is weird because in many ways I’m a rule follower, I guess until the rule no longer fits. When folks say to turn left, I naturally wonder what’s down the road in the other direction and  I have never really had that fear of getting lost. I’ve traveled my way through rough spots with some kind of crazy, naive concept that since I like everybody, that everyone should like me and therefore I won’t be harmed. So far it’s worked out pretty good, but I’m not sure it was always the smartest choice.

I have a long time friend, who is a wonderful deep Christian thinker. He’s always called me a “Searcher”. Years ago that bugged me. I didn’t like the term because I took it to mean I was lost, and lost for me at that time and in that way wasn’t a good thing. Everyone in my culture seemed so sure of their answers in life and I was never that way. I always saw each answer from a slightly different angle as I grew and participated in more life experiences. I think I’ve also had either the knack or the flaw, of seeing a truth in the other side of every story.  I guess in the back of my mind, I intrinsically thought God knew I wasn’t suppose to have all the answers, and that the journey of seeking was really more important than being right. Seeking to connect to that Mystery was where the real sweet spot was.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve made some turns that I never thought I’d recover from and I have like many of us, had friends that didn’t make it back from the turn that was just for the experience. I’m not as reckless as I once was, but that spirit of searching and not being static in my perspectives is alive and well, and I enjoy those fruits as well as nurse the aches that come from it. And more than grasping and clutching, I hope I’m gently cupping my hands to hold those sweet waters that renew my soul and remind me that love comes first.

So searcher?, Yes, I suppose that fits me. As I’m on the “Falling Upward” side of life as Richard Rohr describes it, I begin to embrace that term a little more; I begin to sit a little more peacefully in the gray shades of my life where a faith doesn’t demand all the answers and where there’s a deeper sense of trust, that it’s all gonna be ok .

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.

Does Everything Belong?

Everything belongs. That’s the assertion by Franciscan Monk, Richard Rohr in his book of the same title. When the phrase of everything belongs came across my radar a few years ago, I applied it to things that I felt comfortable with. Does Buddhism belong? Does divorce? Job loss? Well that kind of list could go on for a long time with a certain amount of personal comfort.

I am currently reading “Everything Belongs” for a discussion group I participate in. We are digging into what “Everything Belongs” means and digging deeper into topics like rape. Does that belong? Does molestation or what is going on in Darfur belong? Do the behaviors and practices of the priests and nuns at American Indian boarding schools belong in a world where God is supreme and can “save us” from anything at any given time?

Big questions. Questions with not a lot of answers. Where does faith come into all of that? Is one to just trust that God knows best, or that we will understand someday on the other side? For me, those seem to be answers someone would give just to not have to think about it. Answers given from someone that has just checked their spirituality off as religion, as an insurance policy, and they go on with their lives. In some ways they are right. I believe there is a great amount of mystery we are supposed to live in. We, as a world continue to make choices, and progress forward reaching for equality, but at the same time, living and pursuing a faith of much mystery. Maybe we should embrace the mystery or they gray and let go of our need for control and our need to be right.

So, how would you relate to “everything belongs”? It’s a heavy question, and maybe it is easier to defer it to “all things work together for his glory”. I do know one thing. When one of those “everything belongs” moments is fleshed out in my personal life, I am doing everything I can to change it. To control it. To influence God. But I suppose that just what happens when we are busy being human. I do think there will be a great understanding one day. I believe we will understand such people as Hitler and Dahmer. I believe we will understand the atrocities committed upon indigenous peoples around the world.

This human experience is hard and confusion abounds much of the time. Is that where trust and faith comes in? I would think so. It’s a great question, “does everything belong”. Maybe it’s meant to just begin the dialog and not answer the question.

 

Please weigh in and share your thoughts.

Richard Rohr: A Life of Spiritual Contemplation

I was raised in the church or churches I might say. My mother is an Episcopalian, but my grandparents, whom I spent a lot of time with, were Assembly of God. So needless to say I am comfortable with anything from incense to speaking in tongues. I heard my grandfather speak in tongues many times. Through the years, I have swing back and forth between what made me comfortable and what I resisted.

Our pastor, Stan Mitchell, talks about “searching for your own salvation through fear and trembling”. He tells us that the beauty is to dig deep into your spirituality. That is work, but with beautiful rewards. Perhaps some approach their spirituality as a check list, almost like an insurance policy. So then it becomes “salvation:check”, and then they are done.

I fail quite often in where I am versus where I want to be. That’s a human thing: failure. I don’t believe God looks at things like that. I think if we really realized the depth of that love and mercy, we could turn no other way.

Once in a while you find a teacher whose words just seem right. They make sense, and it’s like you’ve always known those thoughts, but now you find someone to validate them. There is a Franciscan Priest of all folks for me named Richard Rohr. He runs The Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque New Mexico. Maybe it’s just where I’m at in life, in a quieter stage. A more reflective side. The contemplative life.  It just seems to make sense for me, and I believe that approach helps filter out much of what isn’t important in this world we are walking through. It leaves more truth and more opportunity to be in the presence of God.

Not everyone is cut out to make a contemplative spiritual life their steady diet, but in our society, it can be so beneficial for us to slow down and be still. So much activity in our lives that being still seems like the oddest thought. Rohr has several great books and I’d suggest “Everything Belongs” first.

Finding balance and beauty in this life takes effort and I find it takes a great deal of effort sometimes to dig deeper looking for God and understanding that I really know nothing. I’m hoping that leaves me open to see God in everything.

Let me know if you check any of Rohr’s work out. A link to his site is below.

http://www.cacradicalgrace.org/