Growing in Love’s Likeness
The Further Journey
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
The journey into the second half of our own lives awaits us all. Yet not everyone embarks or continues on the journey, even though most of us get older. The “further journey” seems to be a well-kept secret. Many people do not even know there is one. There are too few who are aware that there is more to life.
After decades as a Franciscan teacher, working in many settings, religions, countries, and organizations, I find that many, if not most, people and institutions remain stymied in the preoccupations of the first half of life. By that I mean that most people’s concerns remain those of establishing their personal identity, creating various boundaries, and seeking security and success. These tasks are good to some degree and even necessary. We are all trying to find what the Greek scientist Archimedes called a “lever and a place to stand” so that we can move the world just a little bit. The world would be much worse off if we did not do the important work of ego-development.
I believe that God gives us our soul—our deepest identity, our True Self, our unique blueprint—at our own conception. Our unique little bit of heaven is installed by the Manufacturer within the product, at the beginning! We are given a span of years to discover it, to choose it, and to live our own destiny to the full. If we do not, our True Self will never be offered again, in our own unique form—which is perhaps why almost all religious traditions present the subject with strong words like “heaven” and “hell.” The discovery of our soul is crucial and of pressing importance for each of us and for the world.
We do not “make” or “create” our souls; we just “grow” them up. We are the clumsy stewards of our own souls. Much of our work is learning how to stay out of the way of this rather natural growing and awakening. We need to unlearn a lot, it seems, to get back to that foundational life. This is why religious traditions call the process “conversion” or “repentance.”
Whether or not we find our True Self depends in large part on the moments of time we are each allotted and the choices we make at those moments. Life is indeed “momentous,” created by accumulated moments in which the deeper “I” is slowly revealed if we are ready to see it. Following our inner blueprint or soul and humbly serving others is indeed of ultimate concern. Each thing and every person must act out its nature fully, at whatever cost. This is our life’s purpose, the deepest meaning of “natural law.” We are here to give back freely what was first given to us! It takes both halves of our life to fulfill this calling.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), vii, ix-x, xi.