Blogging 101 – Assignment 11

Today’s assignment: publish a post based on your own, personalized take on a blogging prompt.

Here’s a post on a prompt that came to me as I walked (3.5 miles) and listened to the fine book (audio format) by Richard Rohr, OFM, “Breathing Underwater” in which he offers many insights into the theory and practice of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the chapter on Step Twelve, he focused on these words: “Having had a spiritual awakening…” He said something like, “Addicts have never learned the difference between intensity and intimacy and so they seek one intense experience after another. They have really never found true intimacy in their lives and so they seek constantly, ‘looking for love in all the wrong places.'”

First reflection (outside):  It seems to me that many religious leaders promote enthusiasm, intensity, excitement, zest, zeal, passion, fervor… certainly among young persons, but also among those of us who pass for adults.  One way is to rally against a common enemy so to “energize the base.”  Rohr’s point is that many then need to keep going after this intensity because none of it truly satisfies.  He said, relationships that satisfy really require less intensity to experience union with the God, self, and the other.

Second reflection (inside):  One of my unrelenting questions over decades has been, “How much is enough?  How much will truly satisfy.”  I’ve offered my way of looking at the world as “Irish-Existentialism,” meaning that the glass is always half empty.  Now I wonder at how I maintained that stance for so long, especially since I’ve moved into a new place in life wherein I find serenity in a just bit and a whole lot less in much.  In other words, I believe I’ve taken a few steps on this path where surrender becomes joy and receiving heals emptiness.  Most days anyway.

Thanks, Richard! –roc,sj

2 Comments

  1. Linda Hayek says:

    I , too, have had spiritual awakenings in the search for the answer to “how much is enough?” This math teacher is at a loss to explain it mathematically. Less is more, sometimes, and things don’t always add up.

    Your reflection, Roc, brings to mind my transition from a big place to a downtown condo. After 4 years, I noticed that staying at the lake house in the country didn’t change the fact that I was widowed. What I called solitude had become isolation. It was time to move on. How to reduce all that stuff into one third the space became the problem. I learned a lesson that was both painful and freeing. Memorabilia does NOT EQUAL memories. LESS really can be MORE. I know, it doesn’t add up.

    I am reminded of the poem, “Layers” by Stanley Kunitz, which begins “I have walked through many lives, some of them my own.” In my own life, I recall Mrs. Stan Moore (the faithful doctor’s wife who divorced later), Mrs. Hayek (the fine educator who made mistakes more than once), Mom (the mother who tried really hard), Linda (the bike traveller who got lost occasionally)…to name a few. While downsizing to a condo, I sorted through boxes of memorabilia, and noticed that I was not perfect at any of my previous lives. However, I also noticed that I was “good enough,” something that had eluded me before that. It helped me to move on to whatever would come next.

    Intensity vs. intimacy. No, they are not the same. I believe, however, that the two can happen simultaneously. I am wired to live with my whole heart, and I have never regretted the passion with which I live my days. Even my mistakes are good for something.

    I have just returned from a 3 day bike tour in the Colorado Rockies, a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital in Denver, where my daughter is a physician. I had the privilege of riding with my son-in-law on his first such adventure. (He’s hooked.) At one point he said to me, “This is a great sport that you’ll probably be doing for 20 more years.” I tried to imagine this intensity at age 84, and I replied, “This I don’t know, but today is a good day. I’m enjoying the ride!!”

    My thought is that this, too, will pass. I know the things that give me joy today will not necessarily be there tomorrow…healthy grandchildren, friends, the wind in my hair, my independence and strength, financial security, my mind…these are temporary and (perhaps) arbitrary. The last line in “Layers” is this: “I am not done with my changes.” It resonates with me.

    I do know that there has been enough in the past to get me through to the next “life” which is also good. Perhaps that is why I prefer the sunrise to the sunset. In my experience, the sun always rises. The hope of a new day is enough for me. Of course, the details will be a a whole new challenge. The new day can bring a storm for which I am completely unprepared. I’ve been there more than once. Spiritual Awakening 101.

    Like

    • The wisdom only a math teacher could bring! LESS can really be MORE… and it doesn’t add up. This may be where the true leap of faith happens, eh? Maybe more than a leap, a sinking into the depths of one’s life to find the Mystery of God there without our adding, subtracting, dividing, or multiplying. (Not bad for a humanities major, right?)
      You do live life intensely. And I hope you do make it to 84 or more. But, I like your sense that today, all is well.Thanks!
      Peace Linda.

      Like

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