Going on the Full Journey — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Going on the Full Journey

Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two

Going on the Full Journey
Friday, August 21, 2020

This journey from Order to Disorder must happen for all of us. It is not something just to be admired in Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Job, or Jesus. Our role is to listen and allow, and at least slightly cooperate with this almost natural progression. We all come to wisdom at the major price of both our innocence and our control. Few of us go there willingly; it must normally be thrust upon us. However, we must be wary of staying in Disorder for too long.

Everyone gets tired of critique after a while. We cannot build on exclusively negative or critical energy. We can only build on life and what we are for, not what we are against. Negativity keeps us in a state of victimhood and/or a state of anger. Mere critique and analysis are not salvation; they are not liberation, nor are they spacious. They are not wonderful at all. We only become enlightened as the ego dies to its pretenses, and we begin to be led by soul and Spirit. That dying to ourselves is something we are led through by the grace of God. When we move into the Larger Realm of Reorder, we will weep over our sins, as we recognize that we are everything that we hate and attack in other people. Then we begin to live the great mystery of compassion.

There is no nonstop flight from Order to Reorder, or from Disorder to Reorder. We must dip back into what was good, helpful, and also limited about most initial presentations of “order” and even the tragedies of “disorder.” Otherwise we spend too much of our lives rebelling and reacting. I’m not sure why God created the world that way, but I have to trust the universal myths and stories. Between the beginning and the end, the Great Stories inevitably reveal a conflict, a contradiction, a confusion, a fly in the ointment of our self-created paradise. This sets the drama in motion and gives it momentum and humility. Everybody, of course, initially shoots for “happiness,” but most books I have ever read seem to be some version of how suffering refined, taught, and formed people.

Maintaining our initial order is not of itself happiness. We must expect and wait for a “second naïveté,” which is given more than it is created or engineered by us. Happiness is the spiritual outcome and result of full growth and maturity, and this is why I am calling it “reorder” (much more about that next week). Generally, we must be taken to happiness—we cannot find our way there by willpower or cleverness. Yet we all try—usually heading in the wrong direction! We seem insistent on not recognizing this universal pattern of growth and change. It seems that each of us has to learn on our own, with much kicking and screaming, what is well hidden but also in plain sight.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent Books: 2019), 247–248; and

Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 1989, 2014), 35.

Image credit: Number 8, (detail), Jackson Pollock, 1949, Neurberger Museum of Art, New York, New York.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: “Almost inevitably, our ideally ordered universe will eventually disappoint us, at least if we are honest. We will be deeply disappointed by what we were originally taught, by where our choices have led us, or by the seemingly random tragedies that take place in all our lives. It is necessary if any real growth is to occur.” —Richard Rohr
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