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Resilience and Growth
Resilience and Growth

A Maturing Spirituality 

Monday, June 17, 2024

Richard Rohr offers his own basic overview of the stages of spiritual development, which also account for our developmentally appropriate psychological needs:  

  1. My body and self-image are who I am.  
    We focus on our own security, safety, and defense needs.  
  1. My external behavior is who I am.  
    We need to look good from the outside and to hide any “contrary evidence” from others, and eventually from ourselves. The ego’s “shadow” begins to emerge at this time.  
  1. My thoughts and feelings are who I am.  
    We begin to take pride in our “better” thoughts and feelings and learn to control them, so much so that we do not even see their self-serving nature. For nearly all of us, a major defeat, shock, or humiliation must be suffered and passed through to go beyond this stage.  
  1. My deeper intuitions and felt knowledge in my body are who I am.  
    This is such a breakthrough and so helpful that many of us are content to stay here, but to remain at this level may lead to inner work or body work as a substitute for any real encounter with, or sacrifice for, the “other.”  
  1. My shadow self is who I am.  
    This is the first “dark night of the senses”—when our weakness overwhelms us, and we finally face ourselves in our unvarnished and uncivilized state. Without guidance, grace, and prayer, most of us go running back to previous identities.  
  1. I am empty and powerless.  
    Some call this sitting in “God’s Waiting Room,” but it is more often known as “the dark night of the soul.” At this point, almost any attempt to save ourselves by any superior behavior, morality, or prayer technique will fail us. All we can do is to ask, wait, and trust. God is about to become real. The false or separate self is dying in a major way.  
  1.  I am much more than who I thought I was.  
    We experience the permanent waning of the false self and the ascent of the True Self as the center of our being. It feels like an absence or void, even if a wonderful void. John of the Cross calls this “luminous darkness.” We grow not by knowing or understanding, but only by loving and trusting.  
  1.  “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30).  
    Here, there is only God. There is nothing we need to protect, promote, or prove to anyone, especially ourselves. Our false self no longer guides the ship. We have learned to let Grace and Mystery guide us—still without full (if any) comprehension.  
  1.  I am who I am.  
    I’m “just me,” warts and all. We are now fully detached from our own self-image and living in God’s image of us—which includes and loves both the good and the bad. We experience true serenity and freedom. This is the peace the world cannot give (see John 14:27) and full resting in God.  

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2009), 164–166.  

Image Credit and Inspiration: Angelo Pantazis, untitled (detail), 2018, photo, Unsplash. Click here to enlarge image. We continue down our pathways, step by step, through both the drying and the greening seasons

Story from Our Community:  

Going through the process of aging has been unsettling for me. But each day, as I read the CAC’s Daily Meditations, I am reminded that hope emerges through despair, life springs forth after winter, joy arises even within grief, and love can overcome hatred and violence. I am slowly being guided to a new way of looking at life, even as the world discourages and confuses me. Instead of hiding from the turbulence of reality, I am learning to be more resilient.  
—Debbie J. 

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