courage and vulnerability

life_s_journey_by_annakoutsidou-d6f3c0zI have written about Richard Rohr’s thoughts for the day in the past …. and no doubt I will again in the future. This past week Rohr has been talking about ‘Entering the Dark Wood’ and the need for pain and suffering to help us into the second parts of our lives. It is through pain and suffering, suggest Rohr, that we find ourselves, dismiss false gods and discover more of who God is.

Some quotes from the week that I have particularly resonated with:

It is only by a foundational trust in the midst of suffering, some ability to bear darkness and uncertainty, and learning to be comfortable with paradox and mystery, that you move from the first half of life to the second half.

A need to have everything explained and tightly boxed ties us in knots … being able to accept mystery, being unaware of the outcome, and knowing mystery is … well … mystery helps us to move on in our life journeys.

On Wednesday, a lot resonated, particularly with where I find myself at the moment …

To allow and fully experience the darkness is an immense act of courage (from cor-agere, “an act of the heart”). Our natural instinct is to pull back from others, to move into a self-chosen exile. But when we are cut off or alienated from others, wounds are exacerbated rather than healed.

In the darkness, it’s hard to feel courageous. We resist love. “I will prove that I’m unworthy. I will not let you get to me.” Yet we must turn toward the very people we are pushing away, those who love us and who see meaning in our life when we can’t. It sounds naïve and simplistic, but love is the greatest healer.

In the darkness, we usually look for someone to blame, to absolve ourselves from the problem. I think we’ve been led into a period of exile again, both as a culture and as a Church, as evidenced by increased hostility and blame of the “other.”

These words hit me with full force again tonight as I loo over the last few weeks and months in particular.
I believe that myself, and many others, conditioned by our upbringing and reinforced by a culture of today that tells us that we are the only ones that can help ourselves, tend to  hide away and find it hard to accept that love, particularly love from another, can be the greatest healer. But, instead, we chose exile.

I guess there is something here about making oneself vulnerable. (If you have not heard the Brene Brown vulnerability stuff get yourself over to Ted Talks and listen!) Although many of us understand vulnerability is key … it has been pretty central to most of my ministry … when it comes to our personal lives, sometimes that vulnerability can be incredibly scary to accept and sit with. That vulnerability can cause us to be hurt, puts us at risk of being abandoned, and opens us to being shattered by the acts of another person. No one wants that. Yet everyone needs that … not the shattering … but the vulnerability and the realisation that if it is accompanied with love it can be life changing.

If we could learn to accept that, personally, socially and globally … maybe …. just maybe … our lives, our society and our world would be better places to live in.

I’ll be honest tho …. I’m not there just yet …. so I’m off back to my cave to mull this stuff over …. stuff of a new life … the second part of life … the bit where we really live, really come alive, really rejoice! I’m close …. I’m walking in the right direction ….. slowly … but the right direction none the less …. I hope I arrive soon … or not too late at least!


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