The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Friday, September 23, 2011

Down the upward path

I am reading an excellent book right now, Richard Rohr's Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. He offers some very well-informed, balanced, and insightful food for thought for this journey we call life.

Basically, his point is that we as human beings need to spend the first part of our lives learning the rules, being built up and finding our identity within our comfort zones. Eventually, though, we will come to a point--for each person, the time and circumstances vary--when we must let go of and transcend all that to truly become who we are meant to be. Often, this is painful, and against our will -- challenges, mistakes, loss of control, and suffering in its many forms.

But Rohr effectively argues that if we accept this experience, and allow ourselves to be led through it, we will come to know life more fully beyond anything we could possibly have imagined. He draws on a long chain of Scripture and Church tradition, literature, and classical thought to bring to light an idea that it is not really new at all (i.e., Jesus' words, "Those who lose their life for my sake will find it,"  Dante's Divine Comedy, Homer's Odyssey). And that idea is this: Paradoxically, we only move upward if we first fall down.

This is a mystery that today's culture desperately needs to rediscover and engage for its own sake. I highly recommend this book. Here is an excerpt:

Judeo-Christian salvation history is integrating, using, and forgiving of the tragic sense of life. Judeo-Christianity includes the problem inside the solution and as part of the solution. The genius of the biblical revelation is that it refuses to deny the dark side of things, but forgives failure and integrates falling to achieve its only promised wholeness, which is much of the point of this whole book.

Jesus is never upset at sinners (check it out!); he is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners! Jesus was fully at home with this tragic sense of life. He lived and rose inside it. I am now personally convinced that Jesus' ability to find a higher order inside constant disorder is the very heart of his message--and why true Gospel, as rare as it might be, still heals and renews all that it touches.

Faith is simply to trust the real, and to trust that God is found within it--even before we change it. This is perhaps our major stumbling stone, the price we must pay to keep the human heart from closing down and to keep the soul open for something more.

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