As I watch the canyon wren or inspect the improbable flowers blooming in this rocky soil, I hear God saying, ‘I will supply your needs.’ I guess I cling to people and things because I do not trust that fully enough. I really don’t believe that nothing generates with me, and everything begins and ends with God’s bounty. I pray for a new consciousness which knows the truth that none of us are separate and everything comes from God.
— Paula D’Arcy from Gift of the Red Bird: A Spiritual Encounter
I heard an old man speak once, someone who had been sober for fifty years, a very prominent doctor. He said that he’d finally figured out a few years ago that his profound sense of control, in the world and over his life, is another addiction and a total illusion. He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the back seat of cars, in those car seats that have steering wheels, with grim expressions of concentration on their faces, clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing, he thinks of himself and his relationship with God: God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver’s seat.
— Anne Lamott from Operating Instructions
Neither will God be confined by the trivial uses human beings often want to make of God’s power and presence. Carter Heyward observed that we sometimes think of God as a big aspirin about whom it can be said, ‘Take a little God, you’ll feel better.’ This God fixes all our problems for us, finds us parking spaces in crowded malls, and bails us out of tight situations. God gives clear guidance about every possible decision. Heyward suggests that it is far more biblical to think of God as enigmatic or incomprehensible. God is not in our control or at our beck and call. God does not exist to do our bidding or to make our lives more convenient. Often God does not make everything all better. Illness, pain, and death are not always fixable; but God is present in the midst of them.
— Lynn Japinga from Feminism and Christianity
The Stumbling Stone
We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.
— W.H. Auden
Sooner or later, if you are on any classic ‘spiritual schedule’, some event, person, death, idea, or relationship will enter your life that you simply cannot deal with, using your present skill set, your acquired knowledge, or your strong willpower. Spiritually speaking, you will be, you must be, led to the edge of your own private resources… you will and you must ‘lose’ at something. This is the only way that Life-Fate-Grace-Mystery can get you to change, let go of your egocentric preoccupations, and go on the further, larger journey. I wish I could say this was not true, but it is darn near absolute in the spiritual literature of the world.
There is no practical or compelling reason to leave one’s present comfort zone in life. Why should you or would you? Frankly, none of us do unless and until we have to. The invitation probably has to be unexpected and unsought. If we seek spiritual heroism ourselves, the old ego is just back in control under a new name. There would not really be any change at all, but only disguise. Just bogus ‘self-improvement’ on our own terms.
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. What an enigma! Self-help courses of any type, including this one if it is one, will help you only if they teach you to pay attention to life itself. ‘God comes to you disguised as your life,’ as my friend Paula D’Arcy so wisely says.
So we must stumble and fall, I am sorry to say. And that does not mean reading about falling, as you are doing here. We must actually be out of the driver’s seat for a while, or we will never learn how to give up control to the Real Guide.
— Richard Rohr from Falling Upward
- Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light
- Awakening Is Essential
- Numb The Dark And You Numb The Light
- I Will Not Let You Go Until You Bless Me
- God Will Wound You Deeply