Growing in Love’s Likeness
Two Halves of Life
Sunday, March 25, 2018
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image that we reflect. This is the work of the Lord who is Spirit. —2 Corinthians 3:18
We are created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of our conception. The Creator gives us our core identity as sons and daughters of God, “from the beginning” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Throughout our lives we co-create our unique likeness as we grow and mature. Yes, we have a say in the process! God creates things with the freedom and permission to continue the act of creation. (See Romans 8:28-30.) Many people struggle to think this way without an evolutionary worldview. Religious folks often attribute transformation entirely to God, and secular folks think it’s all up to them. But of course, you who read these meditations are nondual thinkers and can say both/and!
Life gives us opportunities to discover our image and develop our likeness, often in the form of necessary stumbling and falling. Throughout it all we are always held inside of Love. Challenges and disruptions invite us to move from what I call the first half of life to the second half, from forming and serving the ego to the ego, in fact, serving the soul. With the guidance of the Spirit and the help of wise mentors and elders, all of life, including our “false” or small and separate self, can lead us to our True Self or “who we are hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Most of us tend to think about the second half of life in terms of getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of our physical life. But the transition can happen at any age. Moving to the second half of life is an experience of falling upward and onward, into a broader and deeper world, where the soul has found its fullness and we are consciously connected to the whole.
It is not a loss but somehow a gain. I have met enough radiant people to know that this paradox is possible! Many have come to their human fullness, often against all odds, and usually through suffering. They offer models and goals for humanity, much more than the celebrities and politicos who get so much of our attention today.
Helen Keller (1880-1968)—an author, pacifist, suffragist, member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and a woman who was deaf and blind—was such a model. Once she discovered her own depths, she seems to have leapt into the second half of life very early, despite considerable limitations. She became convinced that life was about service to others rather than protecting or lamenting her supposedly disabled body. Keller’s Swedenborgian mysticism surely helped her grow and “fall upward” despite—or maybe because of—her very constricted early experience. Helen had to grow; she had to go deep and broad. She clearly continued to create herself, even though she could have so easily complained about how little she had to work with. Where did God end and where did she begin? It is an impossible question to answer. Helen and God somehow worked together.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 153-154.