I’ve been reading Richard Rohr’s new book, Falling Upward. Good book…full of precious gems of wisdom from a man who is wise, humble, loving and “generous” in his orthodoxy. The book’s main premise is helpful for those of us who are making our way into a latter “stage” of life…but there are many things in the book that are encouraging and challenging.
One of the most encouraging is the reframing that Rohr does with issues having to do with life’s challenges, pains, struggles, failures, and set-backs (you can fill in the blank with whatever word you want as long as it has to do with issues that you have a tendency to avoid in life). Here are a few quotes from the book:
“…the way up is the way down. Or, if you prefer, the way down is the way up…we do not want to embark on a further journey if it feels like going down, especially after we have put so much sound and fury into going up… BUT, normally a job, fortune, or reputation has to be lost, a death has to be suffered, a house has to be flooded, or a disease has to be endured…it is not that suffering or failure might happen, or that it will only happen to you if you are bad (which most religious people think), or that it will happen to the unfortunate, or to a few in other places, or that you can somehow by cleverness or righteousness avoid it. No, it will happen and to you! Losing, falling, failing, sin, and the suffering that comes from experiences – all of this is a necessary and even good part of the human journey.”
I love those words…Jesus did say something about a grain of wheat needing to die for new life to spring forth (John 12:24). I don’t know what it is about suffering that makes us all (myself included) want to head for the hills…we’ll avoid it, try to deflect it or even numb ourselves in the middle of it…we’ll pray to be released or delivered from it (that’s a faithful prayer)…but to endure it and look for the words and work of the Spirit in the middle of it is a HUGE step of maturity. I need to be reminded that suffering has a purpose…it is NOT something randomly doled out by a distant and/or uncaring God…but rather something in which we discover the ever-present reality of simply “that presence” of God in the midst of it. We discover the pillar of cloud and fire as we journey the wilderness…or the presence of “angels” (usually in disguise) bringing us restoration as we walk those lonely steps.
If you are like me, and I bet you are in many ways, we need reminders like this…I know I do…I hope it makes sense to you and that it gives you some hope. Tough times are not meaningless…they are part of the process which leads you to a fuller and more meaningful, richer life. More to come…