A Hidden Wholeness

Growing in Christ: Week 2

A Hidden Wholeness
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

As we grow spiritually, we discover that we are not as separate as we thought we were. Separation from God, self, and others was a deep and tragic illusion. As we grow into deeper connection and union, the things that once brought meaning and happiness to our small self no longer satisfy us. We tried to create artificial fullness through many kinds of addictive behavior, but still feel empty and nothing, if we are honest. We need much more nutritious food to feed our Bigger Self; mere entertainments, time-fillers, diversions, and distractions will no longer work.

At the more mature stages of life, we are even able to allow the painful and the formerly excluded parts to belong to a slowly growing and unified field. This shows itself as a foundational compassion, especially toward all things different from us and those many people who don’t fit society’s standards. If you have forgiven yourself for being imperfect, you can now do it for everybody else too. If you have not forgiven yourself, I am afraid you will likely pass on your sadness, absurdity, judgment, and futility to others. What comes around goes around.

Many who are judgmental and unforgiving seem to have missed out on the joy and clarity of the first childhood simplicity, perhaps avoided the suffering of the mid-life complexity, and thus lost the great freedom and magnanimity of the second naïveté as well. We need to hold together all of the stages of life, and for some strange, wonderful reason, it all becomes quite “simple” as we approach our later years. The great irony is that we must go through a lot of complexity and disorder (another word for necessary suffering) to return to the second simplicity. We must go through the pain of disorder to grow up and switch our loyalties from self to God. Most people just try to maintain their initial “order” at all costs, even if it is killing them.

As we grow in wisdom, we realize that everything belongs and everything can be received. We see that life and death are not opposites. They do not cancel one another out; neither do goodness and badness. There is now room for everything to belong. A radical, almost nonsensical “okayness” characterizes the mature believer, which is why they are often called “holy fools.” We don’t have to deny, dismiss, defy, or ignore reality anymore. What is, is gradually okay. What is, is the greatest of teachers. At the bottom of all reality is always a deep goodness, or what Thomas Merton called “a hidden wholeness.” [1]

References:
[1] Thomas Merton, “Hagia Sophia,” Ramparts Magazine (March 1963), 66. Also see In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, ed. Lynn R. Szabo (New Directions: 2005), 65.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 113-115;

Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003), 55-56, 61; and

How Do We Get Everything to Belong? disc 3 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2004), CD, MP3 download.

Image credit: Krishna and Radna Looking into A Mirror (detail), artist unknown, 1800, National Museum, New Delhi, India.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me: my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, and one love. —Meister Eckhart

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