We are getting close to the end of the year. 2014 has been eventful for everyone who reads this blog post today. You may not think it has been positively eventful but it has been transformationally eventful one way or another. You and I have been shaped by this past year’s events, circumstances, situations, crises, and celebrations. In fact, there will never be another time in our lives where we have had the “perfect storm” of life impact us in such a manner. I know it is not something we usually reflect upon when reviewing a year. Most of us have a tendency to view “decisive moments” (moves, promotions, etc.) as defining moments. We diminish the mundane to focus on the spectacular. But trust me when I say that it is precisely the mundane that has shaped us the most.
All of us have spent the past 365 days responding and reacting to various life stimuli. Whether love or challenge…hurt or acceptance…tragedy or delight…we have all grown as we have exercised the choices we have made as we navigated every circumstance. For many of us longtime habits have been solidified as we keep reacting to life in predictable but oft times harmful manners. Despite the fact that we would love to see our lives change our foreseeable reactions keep us stuck unable to grow. Remember insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We’re getting the same things in life because we don’t take risks. Others of us have taken that huge risk in making choices to respond differently to issues that would have in the past taken us aback and damaged us in one way or another. Now, because of the new steps we have taken, what would have made a negative impact on our lives has just floated by as we have chosen a new path. In some ways, our lives will never be the same again because that risk paid off…honesty really did work…integrity really does make life better…telling the truth does set you free.
I read the following devotional today from Richard Rohr, one of my favorite spiritual mentors. Rohr has uncanny knack of seeing beyond the surface of our lives to something deeper, more profound and more potentially transformational. I’ve always wanted to have a good “take” on my soul. His words helped me this morning see me in a different light. And, as I mentioned above, with this knowledge…with this encouragement…with this exhortation, maybe I can make some decisions in the coming year that will bring me to a new place of wholeness and peace. I know what it will take to get there…I pray for the strength to do it.
“Finding Your Soul” by Richard Rohr…adapted and edited by Robin Dugall
In the final stage of life, what I call the “I Am Who I Am” goal, you know your body is not you of itself; you have found your soul and been contacted by Spirit. You do not need to protect your external self, roles, money or status symbols. You do not need to promote them or prove them to anyone. You can even let go of your image of being superior in any way: a holy person, more moral than others, smarter, an advanced or enlightened person in any sense. You know that whatever has happened to you is all God’s work and you have merely been the lucky recipient. You did not do it; it was done to you. You do not waste time admiring yourself; it takes most of your time to admire the God who has done this to you and for you and as you—and for no good reason! God creates exquisite wildflowers in hidden valleys that no human eye will ever see—just for the inherent joy and beauty of it! Goodness is always diffusive and outpouring of itself by its very nature. In fact, that is what makes goodness so beautiful.
At this later and more mature stage, it’s enough to be simply human. I can now let God take care of whatever it means to be spiritual, because I am not even sure what “spiritual” means anymore. Everything seems to be both material and spiritual at the same time. Finally I have met my worst enemy, and that enemy is me—not the other, whose very enmity has often turned out to be friendship and intimacy at the soul level. By now, I have faced much of my shadow and found out that God loves me best in and through my mistakes, so I do not need to posture any more.
St. Francis said he wore a patched robe because he wanted to appear to others exactly as he was on the inside—wounded and weak—as we all are if we are honest. He had faced his broken self and it was precisely there that he met the most unconditional of loves. God uses everything, you see, even and especially our mistakes. St. Augustine said the same: “In my deepest wound I found you, Lord, and it dazzled me.”
At this point, you are not tied to believing that your religion is the only one that gets people to God. You can see God in all things, everywhere, and easily in people outside your own religion. They did not change, your doctrines did not change, but you did! You have met the Formless One, so the mere forms of religion are not so important now. Still, you do not throw out any of the previous stages; you now know that people need to go through all of them. You do not waste time opposing the rituals, the doctrines, the hierarchies, the scriptures, or the belief systems that got you on this path; but now you know they are all just fingers pointing to the moon; they are not the moon itself. This is total non-dual thinking, a different mind and a different experience. This is the mind of the mystic.
I am who I am in the eyes of God, nothing more and nothing less.