On Sunday three different people in different places brought up Richard Rohr‘s new book “Everything Belongs”. It was an appropriate reference as we were all floundering a bit in understanding why there could be all the bad in this world. And Rohr’s premise is that part of our adventure here on earth is understanding that there will always be bad and good, and “everything belongs”. HP (Higher Power) and I have a deal that when I hear about something three times in quick succession, I know it’s a message from above. Just to be sure I got it, another friend called Monday morning and told me that he had this strong feeling that I need to stop reading whatever I was reading and read “Everything Belongs”. There’s nothing more clear than that. So, I downloaded Rohr’s book to my Kindle and started reading last night.
Jesus often taught in parables. Rohr says he did that because he needed to get us out of our own logic. We need to have the minds of little children in order to grasp spirituality. He helped us learn it by relating to story. I don’t know about you, but when somebody directly confronts me on something, I often get defensive and start making up all kinds of rationalizations about why it isn’t so. When I was a young woman and struggling with my first marriage, a friend of mine gave me a copy of the book “Women Who Love Too Much“. I thought it was sweet that she gave it to me, but I didn’t really think I had an issue, so I gave it away. Fast-forward twenty-five years to when I’m working on my codependency issues. I read a story about a woman with similar issues as mine, and she quotes this same book. All of a sudden, I realized that I needed that book – now and then. In learning, it is much better to teach people by letting them “pull” the information when they need it rather than “push” it on them when they are not ready. When I am ready to hear it, the story’s meaning will appear – even though I may have heard it 100 times.
Rohr talks about this parable and relates it to our tendency to want to “call” out those who are sinners or who are bad or who need to be “fixed”. It even relates to both the good and bad inside each one of us. When I think of myself and my own personal growth, it is definitely the “weeds” in me that are my greatest teachers. My addiction issues, my depression and anxiety and my codependency caused me such pain. And pain is a great motivator. But, with each of these conditions, there was no way to “fix” them. I had to accept them as they were and learn to live with them. And I’m truly better off for having done so.
You don’t need to push the river because you are in it.
~~ Richard Rohr, “Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer”
My lifelong struggle is to accept what is and accept it gracefully. I wonder if that battle will ever end. When I was younger, I had no idea how to surrender and go with the flow. I fought tooth and nail for every inch of progress. It was in my 40s that I finally grasped the practice of surrender. I have yoga and a very unrelenting 12-step sponsor to thank for that. Now I long for that feeling of letting go when I’m feeling tense or scared or angry. I hang on and hang on and hang on until I finally realize what I’m doing.
Rohr says, “You don’t need to push the river because you are in it.” He says everything is inside us. It is not for us to work for progress or follow some rules or to learn more stuff. That is not the work of spirituality. The work of spirituality is to let the river take me and accept everything as it is. And I do know that when I stop relentlessly searching, it’s amazing how what I need just shows up – exactly when I need it.