Looking Back at Life

Nearing eighty
 I'm not crippled or an invalid, 
I have my health,
 I still enjoy a good walk, 
a good meal (with all the trimmings), 
I can sleep without first taking a pill, 
birds, flowers, cacti and sunsets on Torch Lake still inspire me, 
so I am a most fortunate individual;
and so morning and night I give thanks. 

Some are younger in years but weary in spirit, 
already on the way to becoming automatons.

I fall in love again and again every day,
 forgiving my parents for being human,
 content to get nowhere, 
just taking each day as it comes.
By keeping from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical.
I've got it half licked.

I have the greatest respect and admiration for the very old 
who seem to remain eternally young and creative.
Such youthful nonagenarians put the young to shame. 

Those who are truly decrepit, 
living corpses, so to speak, 
are the men and women 
who are stuck in their comfortable pews
and imagine that the status quo will last forever 
or else are so frightened it won’t 
that they have retreated into their mental bomb shelters 
to wait it out.

I have had a successful career,
but my late years have been the happiest time of my life. 
Success, from the worldly standpoint,
 could have been like a plague 
for me, a writer who has something to say. 

Now, instead of simply enjoying a little leisure, 
I find myself more occupied than ever. 

The Joy now is being free, 
doing what I want to do.


One thing seems more and more evident to me now,
 people’s basic character rarely changes over the years.
Life forces us to learn a few lessons, 
but not necessarily to grow;
That's up to us.

Nearing eighty,
I believe I am a far more cheerful person 
than I was at twenty or thirty. 
I most definitely would not want to be a teenager again. 
Youth may be glorious, 
but it is also painful to endure.
Someone said,
One starts to get young at the age of sixty, 
and then it’s too late.

By sixty I abandoned illusions, 
many from religious sources,
but fortunately not my enthusiasm,
 nor the joy of living, 
nor my unquenchable thirst for life,
for Love.

Perhaps it is my thirst,
for and about anything and everything,
 that made me the writer I am. 
It has never left me.

With this attribute came another 
which I prize above everything else, 
and that is my sense of wonder. 

No matter how restricted my world may become 
I cannot imagine it leaving me 
void of wonder. 

In a sense I suppose it might be called my religion. 

I do not ask how it came about, 
this creation in which I swim, 
but only enjoy and appreciate it.

Perhaps the most comforting thing 
about growing old gracefully 
is the increasing ability not to take things too seriously. 


One of the big differences between a genuine sage
 and a preacher is Joy. 
When the sage laughs it is a belly laugh; 
when the preacher laughs, 
which is all too seldom,
 it is on the wrong side of the face.

With advancing age 
my ideals have definitely altered. 
My ideal is to be free of ideals, 
free of principles, 
free of isms and ideologies,
free of doctrines, dogma, rites, rituals,
and religion.
I want to take to the ocean of life 
like a fish takes to the sea.

I no longer try to convert people
 to my view of things.
Neither do I feel superior
 because they appear to be unresponsive.

I could fight evil 
but against indifference I am helpless.
 I have accepted the fact, 
hard as it may be, 
that human beings are inclined to behave in ways
 that would make animals blush. 

The ironic, the tragic thing 
is that people often behave in ignoble fashion 
from what we consider the highest motives.

 The animal makes no excuse for killing prey for survival.
The human animal, on the other hand, 
invokes God’s blessing 
when killing his fellow humans. 
I learned that God is not on my side 
but at my side.

There is nothing wrong with life itself. 
It is the ocean in which I swim 
and I either adapt to it
 or sink to the bottom. 



But it is in my power as a human being
 not to pollute the waters of life, 
not to destroy the spirit animating us.

The most difficult thing 
for a creative individual 
is to refrain from trying to make the world to my liking 
and to accept my fellow humans for what they are,
good, bad or indifferent.

It is what it is;
Everything Belongs.




In Love

What am I in the eyes of most church-going people? 
A disagreeable heretic 
and somebody who has no position in the Church 
and never will have. 

Very well, even though true, 
I want to show in my work 
what there is in the heart of such a man.

Since I began expressing my Love in my writing,
I knew that unless I gave myself up to Love entirely, 
without any restriction, 
with all my heart, 
there was no chance for me whatever, 
even though my chance is slight.

But what is it to me 
whether my chance is slight or great? 
I mean, must I consider this when I love?
 No,
 I love because I love, 
because I can.

I keep my head clear, 
and do not cloud my mind, 
nor do I hide my feelings, 
nor smother the fire and light in me,
but simply say,
Thank God, I love.

I strive to love with a lofty and intimate compassion, 
with strength, with intelligence, 
always trying to love deeper, better, and more.

The best way to know God 
is to love.
As with the last line of Les Miserables,
To love another
is to see the face of God.

In Love, I discovered something quite new in myself.
I used to do most of my work with my brain,
 with a certain analytical bent, 
with a certain sharp calculation. 


But now, 
I perceive to my astonishment 
that there is another greater force that urges me on to write, 
my heart,
Love.




All

I am part of a whole, 
called the Universe,
a part limited in time and space. 

I experienced myself,
my thoughts and feelings, 
as something separated from the rest,
 a kind of optical delusion of my consciousness. 

This delusion was a kind of prison for me, 
restricting me to my personal desires 
and to affection for a few persons nearest me.

 Now, I strive to free myself from this prison 
by widening my circle of compassion 
to embrace all living creatures 
and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Dead Dogma, Dead Sacraments

Moving from content
 to process and relational reality
makes all the difference in the world. 

Dogma based on content
ends up dead rather than inspiring grace and awe.  

Sacraments
 become narrow specific forms of defined relationships 
like man and woman make a sacramental marriage 
and the almost silly theology 
of man and woman as natural law family. 

A relational definition of marriage
 is based on the dynamics of
commitment, loyalty, affirmation, 
deep sense of respect for the other’s humanity and equality,
 a deep abiding unconditional love, 
ongoing forgiveness,
 shared values 
and sense of humility and mysticism, 
connections to larger realities and communities,
all relational dynamics that can take many content forms. 

Sacraments  that see sacred connections and realities 
in many different realities 
become new and easy ways to see all kinds of grace.   

As long as traditional Roman Catholic theology is stuck in content 
rather than relational theology,
it will be static 
and not be able to see love in many places.  

Sacraments grow out of daily relations, 
sharing a cup and bread,
celebrating in community, 
the most basic human encounters, 
forgiveness and mercy between people, 
healing touches during suffering and illness, 
inspiring servant leadership in community, 
sacred work in words and actions 
realizing one’s embedded in creation and continuing creation, 
welcoming and transformation and initiation rituals,
  all relational 
forming the actual substance of  sacraments.


Roman Catholicism has turned them into magic, 
as all priesthood based religions eventually do,
 transforming human and communal relational grace 
into individual and concentrated power to control 
rather than empowering mysticism and awe.   

The Roman Catholics are stuck, 
missing the great grace of their own insights, 
human relational grace, 
the sacred mystical nature of ordinary human life.  

They miss the grace of wonder about life and love 
pretending they can make it magically appear
through the defined content of doctrine, dogma, rites, and rituals,
rather than listening silently and deeply to the lives around them 
and being a mirror to grace of everyday life in creation, 
being recreated over and over and over. 

Originally written by Timothy Schmaltz,
edited and formatted by John Chuchman 

Core

Heart
 comes from the Latin cor
and points not merely to my emotions
but to the core of myself,
that center place where all of my ways of knowing converge
 intellectual,
emotional,
sensory,
intuitive,
imaginative,
experiential,
relational,
and bodily, among others.

My heart
is where I integrate what I know in my mind
 with what I know in my bones,
the place where my knowledge can become
more fully human.

Cor is also the Latin root
from which we get the word Courage.

When all that I understand of myself and world come together
 in the center place called my heart,
I am more likely to find the Courage
 to act with Compassion on what I know.

Hearing other’s stories,
which are often stories of heartbreak,
I can help create an unexpected bond
between us.

When I discover that parallel experiences
led to contrary conclusions,
I am more likely to hold differences respectfully,
knowing that others have experienced similar forms of grief as I.

The more I know about another person’s story,
the less likely I will see that person as an enemy.

I live in the present moment,
with its tedium and terror,
its fears and hopes,
its incomprehensible losses
and its transcendent joys.

It is a moment in which
it often feels as if nothing I do will make a difference,
and yet so much depends on you and me now,
acting with Courage from our hearts.

Relational Beings

Why do we assume
Substance is higher than/preferred to Relationship,
that nouns are better than verbs?

It results in a view
of the human person
as an autonomous, static being,
without a capacity for union
with others,
with the Divine.

As a result,
Two thousand years has been spent
trying to overcome the incompatibility
between divinity and humanity,
the spiritual and the physical.

Jesus gave us the Truth;
We have not heard it,
have not used it.
We have no underlying philosophy
of Relational Being.

The winner has been
individualism
and rationality;
The loser:
Relationality
honoring the intuitive nature of humanity.

Human Personhood
is subsistent relation
at its core
generating relationships
of Unconditional Love
in the image and likeness of God.

The fallout of not getting the message:
Divine Union, Holiness, Salvation, and Incarnation
remain without foundation.
Spirituality and Holiness
have become mere behavioral moralities.

Intuitive Relationality
must be our stable, rooted identity,
a rock of our salvation.
Most Christians
still retain an understanding
of the human person
as an autonomous person
kin to nothing.

We have been created
in God's divine image,
in relationship,
and can communicate and reflect
that image
to others.
Each and every one of us.

The majority of Christians
sense no inherent capacity
for Divine Union
resident in our very soul.


------
A thought from The Divine Dance
by Richard Rohr
edited and reformatted
by John Chuchman