Reflections on the reading – chapter 12

Richard Rohr writes,

buy disulfiram paypal It is rare to really absorb the deeper meaning of the Gospel in the first half of life.   When we were building (and then protecting) our ‘containers’, we may have settled for the answers our families and churches passed on to us.

Odivelas But when we move into the second half of life, we can become impatient with institutions, including the church.  We know that every institution needs to be concerned about practical things like membership, policies, and principles, but we’re now aware that most of these concerns are ego needs, not soul needs.

Now our intimate circles may be growing smaller.  We may bless others who are doing what they feel they must do for a group, but we may no longer be able to join them.

As we distance ourselves, we may feel a certain loneliness.  But that loneliness can be accompanied by a new ability to be alone – and even to be happy alone.

We all tend to move towards a needed introversion as we get older. Such introversion is necessary in order to unpack all that life has given us and taken from us.

Now we can begin to engage in contemplation.

Dualistic, ‘black-and-white’ thinking helps us by making comparisons.  The dualistic mind compares, competes, conflicts, conspires, condemns, cancels out any contrary  evidence (and at times can even crucify).

But dualistic thinking doesn’t help us in most real-life situations.  We’re meant to see in wholes, not in parts.

The most important issues in life need ‘both-and thinking’.  Split people see and create splits in everything and everybody.  Whole people see (and create) wholeness wherever they go.

Where will we find others who will join us in the contemplative life?

Jesus defined church not as an institution but as those places “where two or three are gathered in my name” (Matthew 18:20).  

In his parable of the seed, Jesus reminded his disciples that every seed needs receptive soil before it can grow (Matthew 13:4f).

Receptive people help us grow.  These people are the ‘good soil’.  Two or three people, gathered in Jesus’ name and seeking deeper truth, can create whole new levels of dialogue and friendship.

Could such people support you as you practice the contemplative life?  Could they also support you as you move from prayerful contemplation to constructive action?

Some questions from the Companion Journal:

Could ‘both-and’ thinking help you (or your loved ones) when facing suffering and/or death? (p. 159)

Could ‘both-and’ thinking help you deal with issues at work, in your community, or in political debates?  (p. 160)

Could ‘both-and’ thinking help you respond to a troubling world with courage and compassion?  (p. 160)

Could ‘both-and thinking’ help you move from prayerful contemplation to constructive action?  (p. 160)




Reflections on the reading – chapter 13

Closing wisdom from Richard Rohr:

Wisdom about “falling”….

Most people think that the second half of life is mostly about getting old – but the whole thesis of Falling Upward is the exact opposite.

What feels like “falling” can also be experienced as falling upward and onward.
This kind of “falling” is not about a loss but a gain; it’s not losing but actually winning.

God knows that all of us will fall somehow.  The genius of the Gospel is that it includes the problem inside the solution:

Falling becomes standing;
stumbling becomes finding;
dying becomes rising.

But our small selves cannot see these truths easily.  (This is exactly why we need elders who will mirror life truthfully for us.)

Wisdom about our need for “mirrors”….

True elders mirror back the goodness they find in us. These intimate relationships are the greatest mirrors of all, because they can lead us to our True Selves.

(Not-so-mature people will mirror their own un-lived and confused lives onto us; only those who respond to the real you, good or bad, can help us in the long run.)

By the second half of life, other people have less power to infatuate us or hurt us. Now we can tell the difference between who we really are and how others see us. And so we begin to step out of the hall of revolving and self-reflecting mirrors.

But we can usually do this only if we ourselves have had a true mirror – at least one loving, honest friend to ground us (even the accepting gaze of the Friend).

 Wisdom about the “second journey”….

The second journey is ours to walk or to avoid. If we don’t want to go on that journey, it’s our choice.

That means no one can keep us from the second half of our own life except ourselves. Nothing inhibits the second journey except our own lack of courage, patience, and imagination.

Some falling apart on the first journey is necessary for this to happen – so do not waste a moment of time lamenting…  Pain is part of the deal.

God will always give you exactly what you truly want and desire. 
So make sure you desire deeply – desire God, and desire your True Self. 

All your emptying out is only for the sake of a Great Outpouring. 
God, like nature, abhors all vacuums, and rushes in to fill them. 

As we finish “Falling Upward”, I’m remembering Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day”, which we read after discussing the first chapter.  What does the poem say to you now?

The Summer Dayby Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?