Immortal Diamond – Take THREE!


1Take Three Logo “We would rather be ruined than changed.  We would rather die in our dread than climb
the cross of the present and let our illusions die.”
  W.H. Auden

 Warning – Steep and Deep Waters ahead – only for
the courageous

Richard
Rohr’s last published book, Immortal Diamond, has been formative in my
heart and life over the past weeks.  As
many of you know, I spent much of the Lenten season in 2013 reading and
re-reading Rohr’s work.    
  

“Dead giveaways.” 
That’s what we call them. They are those things that unveil the truth
about some subject or person.  For
example, you notice a middle aged gentleman driving a red sports car on Pacific
Highway in California, right by the beach in the middle of the day…isn’t that a
‘dead giveaway” of a mid-life crisis?  Or
you see a young couple browsing through a “Babies R Us” store…isn’t that a dead
giveaway that they may be expecting a baby? 
In addition to my life in a faith community, I am also a college
professor.  Not too long ago I received a
term paper from a student that had the following on the bottom of the last
page, "This essay is from http://www.essays.com – join today!"  Dead giveaway of cheating, isn’t it?

When it comes to how we see ourselves as followers
of Jesus, there are a few dead giveaways. 
Rohr says that the “curiosity
about ourselves grows more intense (through our lives) as we try on a dozen
costumes and roles and we surely covet any recognition or praise of our most
recent incarnation.” 
Isn’t that
true?  I read that in the first chapter
of the Immortal Diamond and I
paused and thought, “How did Father Rohr get into my head?”  Here’s my confession – I’ve been trying all
kinds of different “costumes and roles” throughout my life attempting to find
the “McGuffin” of success and personal peace. 
One of the reasons I’m so darned impulsive is that I appear to NEVER be
satisfied.  Just when I think, “I’ve
finally made it,” I realize in moments of quiet that there still is restlessness
in my heart.  For years I thought it had
to do with boredom or simply that I could never settle down in life and finish
a specific “race.”  But now I’ve
discovered something deeper, that being, despite my vocal and lifestyle proclamation
of being a follower of Jesus, I’m still looking for success in “small/false”
self.  I keep expecting that the most
recent dressing up in that costume/role will deliver.  What I fail to understand, and what I pray I
can grow in understanding, is that following Jesus is not as much about
“dressing up” as it is “dressing down.” 

Thomas Merton (another great spiritual mentor) once
wrote,

“If I had
a message to my contemporaries it is surely this:  Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and
bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing:  success…If you are too obsessed with success,
you will forget to live.  If you have
learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.”

Rohr again, 

“Success
is hardly ever your TRUE self, only your early window dressing.  It gives you some momentum for the journey
but it is never the real goal.  You do
not know that, however.  In the moment,
if just feels right and good and necessary – and it is.  For a short while.”  

All I can say is, “OUCH!”  Why? 
Because this pursuit has been my life’s M.O.  I have worked hard and attempted to get to
the top of that “mountain” of success and recognition in order to plant the
flag of my identity in a pile of accomplishments…now, I realize that I’ve been
climbing the wrong mountain (and that all my accomplishments and “costumes” are
the real “pile”).  For those of you who
know me, you would be correct in having a different expectation of how this all
comes out in the wash especially because I have so passionately and publically
aligned myself with what most of us regard as the REAL meaning in life.  Even so, as we’ve been alluding to in other
devotionals, it is easy to USE religion as a costume or role.  We can easily use religion for one more opportunity
for some sort of existential, spiritual or personal “success.”  We can use religious goods and services
well…we can prove to anyone who is watching that we are “more spiritual, more
biblically astute, more worshipful or spiritually gifted” than others and thus,
are religiously successful.  Even those
of us who rely on GOD’S GRACE as a means of anchoring our spiritual journey…we
talk a good line but rarely live it. 

Here’s what I see Rohr doing in this early part of
his book – he says clearly that “religion’s
main ‘job’ is to purely and simply do one thing: to tell us, and keep reminding
us of who we objectively are.”
  When
we are babbling on largely about ourselves, Grace keeps reminding us of who, or
better yet, WHOSE, we really are. 
Friends, religion and spiritual acts were NEVER meant to be used as
boundary markers of acceptability, merit badges of being a good person, or
reward for decent behavior.  In this
instance I agree with Father Rohr, a little bit of enlightenment is a very
dangerous thing.  Why?  Because for many of us, religious acts,
affiliations and beliefs are more like props in our lives of righteousness
instead of simply that which proceeds out of an “endowed” identity that we
receive as gift. 

Jesus said, “REJOICE
only that your name is written in heaven (Luke10:20).” 
If we could really, really, really (did I
write, “really”?) understand and feast on that truth it would change our whole
life agenda.  Before we take another step
or have another feeling of inadequacy or discomfort or feel like we will never
be good enough…if only we would just STOP our climbing, contending, competing
or criticizing…if only we would stop “accessorizing” our fragile self, we would
do what Jesus has been waiting for us to do our whole lives:  fall into His loving arms (“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall NOT
want…” Psalm 23:1
).  One last
illustration from the book,

“St. Teresa
of Avila used a metaphor when she described how you can either keep digging the
channel or find the actual spring and let it just flow toward you, in you and
from you.” 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need too many
hints on WHO that “spring” is?  I’m
jumping in…how about you?

 

 

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