Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two Archives — Center for Action and Contemplation
×

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.

Theme:
Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two

Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two

Saturday, August 22, 2020
Summary: Sunday, August 16—Friday, August 21, 2020

There will be a death, a disease, a disruption to our normal way of thinking or being in the world. It is necessary if any real growth is to occur. (Sunday)

We must actually be out of the driver’s seat for a while, or we will never learn how to give up control to the Real Guide. It is the necessary pattern. (Monday)

Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort. It’s not a comfortable conversation for any of us. —Austin Channing Brown (Tuesday)

Jesus was calling for a radical disruption of his religion, a great spiritual migration, and a similar disruption and migration are needed no less today in the religion that names itself after him. —Brian McLaren (Wednesday)

Life-threatening illness may cause people to question what they have accepted as unchanging. Values that have been passed down in a family for generations may be recognized as inadequate; lifelong beliefs about personal capacities or what is important may prove to be mistaken. —Rachel Naomi Remen (Thursday)

We only become enlightened as the ego dies to its pretenses, and we begin to be led by soul and Spirit. (Friday)

 

Practice: Being Present—The Greatest Challenge

While we may not be able to control if or when we are taken into a period of Disorder, we can prepare ourselves for it—not by tightening up our mental security system, but by releasing our need for control. We can, in the words of my friend James Finley, adopt “an inner stance that offers the least resistance to being overtaken by the God-given, godly nature of myself just the way I am.” We invite you to consider these suggestions from spiritual teacher Dr. Carolyn Baker.

[During chaos,] being present means that one is paying attention to what is happening in the moment. This does not mean forgetting about the past or future, but rather in the moment, fully attending to what is taking place right now. Being present also means being observant, listening carefully, not judging the situation or people in it, and being less occupied with thinking and more engaged in consciously being with whatever is occurring. It also means being embodied which does not mean that one must be aware of every body sensation at the time, but simply conscious of inhabiting one’s body. What is most useful in supporting that awareness is the breath. . . .

Breathing deeply assists us in centering ourselves in the physical body and staying in the moment as opposed to becoming lost in the mind, thereby disconnecting from our physicality. . . .

An especially helpful tool that can be utilized in present time while still available is body work. Body work can range from everything from martial arts, to yoga, to Rolfing, to Reiki, to bioenergetics, and more. Simple daily exercise, although extremely beneficial for the body, is not the same as therapeutic body work focused on fine tuning the body-mind connection. . . .

Disconnection from our bodies also compromises our ability to cope with emotions that will be evoked amid chaos. Conversely, grounding ourselves in the body is an extremely useful, even necessary skill when dealing with the upheavals of a world in crisis. When we are grounded in the body, we are more likely to be present to our own emotions and to those of others around us.

I hasten to add, however, that a treasure trove of emotional preparation in the here and now is available to us so that we may become increasingly embodied and familiar with our emotions. This means that well in advance of crises that have become ubiquitous, we begin now to cultivate emotional resilience and develop the skills necessary for navigating a vast social landscape that may be filled with internal and external psychological minefields.

Reference:
Carolyn Baker, Navigating the Coming Chaos: A Handbook for Inner Transition (iUniverse: 2011), 78–79.

 For Further Study:
Austin Channing Brown, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness (Crown Publishing: 2018).

Brian D. McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian (Convergent Books: 2016).

Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal (Riverhead Books: 2006, ©1996).

Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging (Riverhead Books: 2001).

Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011).

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent Books: 2019).

Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order–Disorder–Reorder (Franciscan Media: 2020).

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
Read Full Entry

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.

References:
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
Read Full Entry

Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two

Dying as Disorder
Thursday, August 20, 2020

Dying is not extraneous to life; it is a part of the mystery, and we do not understand life until we stand under death. —Richard Rohr

There may be nothing more disordering than being diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness. It upends our lives and yet, as Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen affirms, it can also be the doorway through which we “grow up” and discover our life’s purpose and meaning. At a young age, Remen was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which affects all aspects of her life, but ultimately led her to her life’s work: helping doctors integrate their heart and soul into their clinical practices for the sake of healing their patients and themselves.

The view from the edge of life is different and often much clearer than the way most of us see things. Life-threatening illness may cause people to question what they have accepted as unchanging. Values that have been passed down in a family for generations may be recognized as inadequate; lifelong beliefs about personal capacities or what is important may prove to be mistaken. When life is stripped down to its very essentials, it is surprising how simple things become. Fewer and fewer things matter and those that matter, matter a great deal more. As a doctor to people with cancer, I have walked the beach at the edge of life picking up this wisdom like shells.

One of my patients who survived three major surgeries in five weeks described himself as “born again.” When I asked him about this, he told me that his experience had challenged all of his ideas about life. Everything he had thought true had turned out to be merely belief and had not withstood the terrible events of recent weeks. He was stripped of all that he knew and left only with the unshakeable conviction that life itself was holy. This insight in its singularity and simplicity had sustained him better than the multiple complex systems of beliefs and values that had been the foundation of his life up until this time. It upheld him like stone and upholds him still because it has been tested by fire. At the depths of the most unimaginable vulnerability he has discovered that we live not by choice but by grace. And that life itself is a blessing.

Some of those who have had a near-death experience, who have actually set foot over that edge and then returned, have had an additional insight. Their experience has revealed to them that every life serves a single purpose. We are here to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. Despite the countless and diverse ways we live our lives, every life is a spiritual path, and all life has a spiritual agenda.

Such ideas have the power to change the way you see yourself and the world.

References:
Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging (Riverhead Books: 2001), 325–326.

Epigraph: The Wisdom Pattern: Order–Disorder–Reorder (Franciscan Media: 2020), 70.

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
Read Full Entry

Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two

A Disruption of the Spirit
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

My friend and CAC colleague Brian McLaren has spent years imagining “a new kind of Christianity” that invites people into a deepening commitment to love of God, neighbor, and self. Such a movement for the common good is surely disruptive or “disordering” to our status quo, just as Jesus disrupted the status quo in his own day.

Jesus was introducing what, in today’s parlance, might be called a disruptive technology. Where sustaining technologies stimulate incremental improvements, like, say, going from a rotary phone to a touch-tone or keypad phone, or even from a landline to a wireless phone, a disruptive technology displaces established assumptions, as in, say, combining a phone, a camera, a computer, a music library and player, a GPS device, and a mobile Internet portal. The old status quo is disrupted, the game changes, and old technologies become irrelevant.

[In] John’s Gospel, Jesus continues to use the imagery of disruption (John 3–4). First, he tells a man that in spite of all his learning, in spite of all his status, he needs to go back and start over, to be born again—perhaps the most apt image for disruption ever. Then he tells a woman that the location of worship doesn’t matter at all—which in their day meant that temples were irrelevant. What matters, Jesus says, is the attitude (or spirit) and authenticity (or truth) of the worshipper. Jesus was calling for a radical disruption in his religion, a great spiritual migration, and a similar disruption and migration are needed no less today in the religion that names itself after him. . . .

A later New Testament writer repeated and expanded upon the disruption and migration Jesus was calling for (1 Peter 2:5). The way of life centered in the Temple must be disrupted because God wanted to dwell not in buildings of bricks or stones cemented together by mortar, but rather in human beings—living stones, he called them—cemented together by mutual love, honor, and respect. . . .

This disruptive revolution, this liberation, this great spiritual migration begins with each of us presenting ourselves, with all of our doubts and imperfections, all of our failures, fears, and flaws, to the Spirit, our legs as pillars, our bodies as temples. . . . You. Me. Everyone. No exceptions.

“The moving ever shall stay,” [twelfth-century Hindu mystic and poet] Basava said. [1] Those words contradict so much of our inherited religious sensibility. “Stay the same. Don’t move. Hold on. Survival depends on resistance to change,” we were told again and again. “Foment change. Keep moving. Evolve. Survival depends on mobility,” the Spirit persistently says. . . .

If you want to see the future of Christianity as a great spiritual migration, don’t look at a church building. Go look in the mirror and look at your neighbor. God’s message of love is sent into the world in human envelopes. If you want to see a great spiritual migration begin, then let it start right in your body. Let your life be a foothold of liberation.

References:
[1] Basava, Vacana 820. See Speaking of Śiva, trans. A. K. Ramanujan (Penguin Books: 1973), 88.

Brian D. McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian (Convergent: 2016), 192–193, 194, 195.

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
Read Full Entry

Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two

The Disorder of Dismantling Racism
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The universal pattern of transformation I’m writing about these three weeks is not limited to religious or spiritual growth. Nor is it only individuals that are invited to make the journey. Whole churches and even cultures experience times of disorder and disruption. In the United States, many of us are discovering that a large number of things we believed to be true—about our nation and ourselves—are not entirely true. I believe this is a necessary step that we must take for the sake of healing and justice in our nation and our world—no matter how “disordering” and even disorienting it may be. Perhaps I can only say this because I believe so completely in the possibility of Reorder! Author Austin Channing Brown, who teaches on issues of racial justice, was raised in a devoutly Christian home and has worked in and with churches for most of her professional life. I hope you can read her words with the openness they deserve.

I learned about whiteness up close. In its classrooms and hallways, in its offices and sanctuaries. At the same time, I was also learning about Blackness, about myself and about my faith. My story is not about condemning white people but about rejecting the assumption—sometimes spoken, sometimes not—that white is right: closer to God, holy, chosen, the epitome of being. . . .

Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort. It’s not a comfortable conversation for any of us. It is risky and messy. It is haunting work to recall the sins of our past. But is this not the work we have been called to anyway? Is this not the work of the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth and inspire transformation?

It’s haunting. But it’s also holy.

And when we talk about race today, with all the pain packed into that conversation, the Holy Spirit remains in the room. This doesn’t mean the conversations aren’t painful, aren’t personal, aren’t charged with emotion. But it does mean we can survive. We can survive honest discussions about slavery, about convict leasing, about stolen land, deportation, discrimination, and exclusion. We can identify the harmful politics of gerrymandering, voter suppression, criminal justice laws, and policies that disproportionately affect people of color negatively. And we can expose the actions of white institutions—the history of segregation and white flight, the real impact of all-white leadership, the racial disparity in wages, and opportunities for advancement. We can lament and mourn. We can be livid and enraged. We can be honest. We can tell the truth. We can trust that the Holy Spirit is here. We must.

For only by being truthful about how we got here can we begin to imagine another way.

Reference:
Austin Channing Brown, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness (Crown Publishing: 2018), 23, 117–118.

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
Read Full Entry

Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two

It Must Happen to Us
Monday, August 17, 2020

Sooner or later, if we are on any classic “spiritual schedule,” some event, person, death, idea, or relationship will enter our lives that we simply cannot deal with using our present skill set, our acquired knowledge, or our strong willpower. It will probably have to do with one of what I call the Big Six: love, death, suffering, sexuality, infinity, and God.  Spiritually speaking, we will be led to the edge of our own private resources. At that point we will stumble over a necessary stumbling stone, as Isaiah calls it (8:14). We will and must “lose” at something. This is the only way that Life–Fate–God–Grace–Mystery can get us to change, let go of our egocentric preoccupations, and go on the further and larger journey.

There is no practical or compelling reason to leave one’s present comfort zone in life. If it’s working for us, why would we? Nor can we force ourselves into the second stage of disorder (though we must certainly be open to it). Any conscious attempt to engineer or plan our own enlightenment is doomed to failure because it will be ego driven. We will try to “succeed” in the midst of our failure and “order” our time in disorder! But unexpected weaknesses, failure, and humiliation force us to go where we never would otherwise. We must stumble and be brought to our knees by reality. “God comes to you disguised as your life,” as my friend Paula D’Arcy wisely says. We must actually be out of the driver’s seat for a while, or we will never learn how to give up control to the Real Guide. It is the necessary pattern.

There must be, and if we are honest, there always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change, or even understand. Normally a job, a fortune, or a reputation has to be lost, a house has to be flooded, an illness has to be endured. Some kind of falling, what I call “necessary suffering,” is programmed into the journey. By denying our pain or avoiding our necessary falling, many of us have kept ourselves from our own spiritual depths. We still want some kind of order and reason, instead of suffering life’s inherent disorder and tragedy.

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), xix–xx, 65–66, 68.

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
Read Full Entry

Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Two

Disorder: Stage Two of a Three-Part Journey
Sunday, August 16, 2020

Last week’s Daily Meditations focused on Order as the first stage of healthy development. To continue growing, we must go through a period—or even many periods—of Disorder. The pattern of transformation involves at least some measure of suffering. Part of us has to die if we are ever to grow larger (John 12:24). If we’re not willing to let go of our smaller selves, our norms, beliefs, and preferences, we won’t be able to enter the more expansive and inclusive space of Reorder.

The invitation from Jesus to move from one stage to another seems quite clear in his frequent invitation to metanoia: to turn around or change our minds. I remember having problems with that myself. I thought, “Why should I turn around? I’m baptized, confirmed, have shared the Eucharist, and am even ordained! I’m right!” How foolish and yet how typical of someone in love with Order. That’s precisely the stubbornness Jesus is talking about.

Almost inevitably, our ideally ordered universe—our “private salvation project” as Thomas Merton called it—will eventually disappoint us, at least if we are honest. At some point in our lives, 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. There will be a death, a disease, a disruption to our normal way of thinking or being in the world. It is necessary if any real growth is to occur.

Some of us find this stage so uncomfortable we try to flee back to our first created order—even if it is killing us. Others today seem to have given up and decided that “there is no universal order,” at least no order we will submit to. That’s the postmodern stance, which distrusts all grand narratives and ideologies, including often any notions of reason, a common human nature, social progress, universal human norms, absolute truth, or objective reality. Much of the chaos that reigns in the American culture and government these days is the direct result of such a “post-truth society.”

But permanent residence in Disorder is rather tragic and certainly unhelpful. It tends to make people negative and cynical, and usually angry. Searching for some solid ground, we can easily become quite opinionated and dogmatic about one form of political correctness or another. While some accuse religious people of being overly dogmatic, this stymied position worships disorder itself as though it were a dogma.

I can see why Christianity adopted the language of being “born again.” The great traditions seem to say the first birth is not enough. We not only have to be born, but remade. The remaking of the soul and the refreshing of the eye has to be done again and again.

References:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent Books: 2019), 244–245; and

Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003), 51, 160.

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
Read Full Entry
Join Our Email Community

Stay up to date on the latest news and happenings from Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation.


HTML spacer