Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Three
My Story, Our Story, THE Story
Friday, August 28, 2020
Only the whole self is ever ready for the whole God, so Reorder always involves moving beyond the dualistic mind toward a more spacious, contemplative knowing. In fact, if we are going to rebuild society, we first need to be rebuilt ourselves. A healthy psyche lives within at least three levels of meaning. We might imagine three domes, or containers. The first and smallest dome is called My Story, the second larger dome is Our Story, and the third and largest dome is The Story.
In the first dome is my private life: those issues that make me special, inferior or superior, right or wrong, depending on how “I” see it. “I” and my feelings and opinions are the reference points for everything. Jesus teaches that we must let go of exactly this, and yet this is the very tiny and false self that contemporary people take as normative, and even sufficient.
The next realm of meaning is about Us. Our Story is the dome of our group, our community, our country, our church—perhaps our nationality or ethnic group. These groups are the necessary training grounds for belonging, attaching, trusting, and loving. Unfortunately, some folks just spend their lives defending the boundaries and “glory” of their group. Group egocentricity is even more dangerous than personal egocentricity. It looks like greatness when it is often no more than disguised egotism. Loyalties at this level have driven most of human history—and most wars—up to now.
The third and largest dome of meaning is THE Story, the realm of universal meaning and the patterns that are always true in every culture. This level assures and insures the other two. It holds them together in sacred meaning. In fact, we could say that the greater the opposites we can hold together, the greater soul we usually have.
Biblical religion, at its best, honors and combines all three levels: personal journey as raw material, communal identity as school and training ground, and an encounter with true transcendence as the integration and gathering place for all the parts together. True transcendence frees us from the tyranny of I Am and the idolatry of We Are. Still, when all three are taken seriously, as the Bible does very well, we have a full life—fully human and fully divine.
The person who lives most of their life grounded within THE Story is the mystic, the prophet, the universal human, the saint, the whole one. These are the people who look out at the smaller picture with eyes as wide as saucers because they observe from the utterly big picture—with love. If we hope for societal reconstruction, it will come from people who can see reality at all three levels simultaneously, honoring the divine level and ultimately living inside of the great story line.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern (Franciscan Media: 2020), 17, 103, 105‒107, 113‒115.