A School of Love
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Relationships are the primary school for love. For many people, parenting or care-giving serves as a container in which the soul, heart, body, and mind can grow. Each container is as unique as the individual who shapes it. Whether or not you are a parent, I hope this week’s reflections will encourage you in the work of generous, generative caring. If you’re a parent of young or adult children, if you aren’t able to have children or have chosen not to, if you provide for an elderly parent, if you’re a teacher, social worker, or nurse, I hope you know that you are not alone, that our divine Father and Mother parents you as you nurture others.
True holiness and wholeness come when we allow God’s love and grace to unfold in the present moment and we respond to what is before us. Holiness is simply being connected to our Source. From such a place, our compassionate response to suffering and need is drawn naturally—without being contrived or forced—from who we are in love, not from egoic motivations or fears.
I think that’s why so many parents become such good and holy people, because that’s exactly what caring for children does for us. Of course, children can be treated as mere extensions of our ego, but we can’t control or always predict what they will ask of us. So they’re likely to make us less egocentric, a lot less egocentric!
I remember a family coming out to visit me when I first moved to Albuquerque. They had three little children who all had croup. For three days, the house sounded like barking dogs! The poor kiddos vomited on everything in the house. I did five loads of laundry. I don’t think we had one relaxing, enjoyable meal together. Having lived alone for much of my adult life, this was a shock. We vowed-religious, celibate folks sometimes think we’re making a sacrifice, choosing the harder path. But the energy, commitment, and selflessness that’s endlessly demanded of parents surpasses anything that has ever been asked of me.
It seems we must face unavoidable demands that require our response, even if we feel inadequate to meet the need right in front of us. We need these God-given reminders that we’re not always the central reference point. Giving of our physical, mental, and emotional resources in such a way isn’t usually ego-affirming, but it is a path toward holiness. It’s not what you do that makes you holy. It’s what you allow to be done to you that makes you holy.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 74; and
Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 1987), disc 3.