Week Four: Second Half of Life Enlightenment
Falling Upward challenges us to stop seeking enlightenment. The more we try to create spiritual breakthroughs, the more frustrated we’ll become. We can only seek God and then take whatever enlightenment and breakthroughs result.
Religion can be healthy or unhealthy. While we begin our religious journeys by learning rules and facts, the deeper Christian experience is a union with God–Jesus called this abiding. Richard Rohr speaks of these two movements as the two halves of life. Both are necessary, but the first half of life can become toxic and unhealthy if it’s all we ever know.
Once we fail, doubt, and struggle, we are most ready to experience God on God’s own terms. Rohr writes:
Any attempt to engineer or plan your own enlightenment is doomed to failure because it will be ego driven. You will see only what you have already decided to look for, and you cannot see what you are not ready or told to look for. So failure and humiliation force you to look where you never would otherwise.
Many people are kept from mature religion because of the pious, immature, or rigid expectations of their first-half-of-life family. Even Jesus, whose family thought he was “crazy” (Mark 3:21), had to face this dilemma firsthand.
By the second half of life, you have learned ever so slowly, and with much resistance, that most frontal attacks on evil just produce another kind of evil in yourself, along with a very inflated self-image to boot, and incites a lot of push-back from those you have attacked.
“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” I learned this from my father St. Francis, who did not concentrate on attacking evil or others, but just spent his life falling, and falling many times into the good, the true, and the beautiful. It was the only way he knew how to fall into God.
Are you encouraged or discouraged to read Rohr’s thoughts on reaching enlightenment?
Take 5 minutes today to rest in God’s direction for your life.