Falling Upward While Dancing
I'm reading a book right now that is very interesting and provides extremely deep and thoughtful reading. If you have never heard of Richard Rohr before, I recommend that you check out his writing. This is my first foray into his writing about spirituality and I must say that his thoughts about falling upward into the second half of life have me doing a lot of thinking about how all of my experiences up to now can lead me into how I live this second half of my life in retirement.
I won't do justice to trying to explain his writing in detail. I can, however, offer some quotes from the book to whet your appetite for the delectable style of his writing. For instance, he begins Chapter 1 entitled, "The Two Halves of Life," with the following quote from Carl Jung:
"One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie." (Carl Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche)
He goes on to explain that while the first half of life is more about creating our life "container" by learning what makes us significant, finding community and learning how we will support ourselves, the second half of life is more about finding the actual contents that our life container was truly meant to hold. He writes that all of the life experiences in the first half of our lives can help us to find out what our "container" should truly be holding. He quotes Mary Oliver who said, "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" And he says that many people continue to work on filling their life container with things that end up needing repaired rather than following the scripture from John 21 where Jesus instructs his disciples to, "throw their nets into the deep," and bring in the huge catch that is waiting for them.
I have to admit that much of what Richard Rohr writes is so deep that I find myself reading small bits at a time, thinking for awhile, and then coming back to read more. And, I don't completely subscribe to everything he says. However, there is much in this book that has touched me deeply. Throughout the book, Richard connects what he is writing with various scriptures and quotes from other sources. One thing that I read this past week has really imprinted itself on my mind. Richard writes:
"When you are young, you define yourself by differentiating yourself; now you look for the things we all share in common. You find happiness in alikeness, which has become much more obvious to you now; and you do not need to dwell on the differences between people and exaggerate the problems. Creating dramas has become boring. In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition. God has taken care of all of that, much better than we ever expected. The brightness comes from within now, and it is usually more than enough. The dance has a seriousness to it, but also an unself-conscious freedom of form that makes it bright and shining."
(Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, Chapter 10, page 120)
I love thinking of my time of life now-this second half of my life-as a dance. And my dance doesn't have to look like anyone else's dance. This not a competition! I can dance without being self conscious or needing to copy someone else's moves. Free form is OK! I wonder if this is how David felt when he danced before the Lord with all his might in 2 Samuel 6:14? I just know that whatever form my dance takes, I want it to be authentically Debbie and I want it to offer praise to the Lord.
"Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory." Psalm 149:3-4
How is your dance coming along? Are you falling upward into the second half of your life? Have you read writing by Richard Rohr? Hope you will take a moment to share.
Linking With: Becoming Press (this will appear on my Where I Party page in future.)
This is very timely as I actively struggle to find my purpose during this season of my life. Just before happening upon this post, I had concluded that my way of serving in the world is akin to the way I do most everything (okay, everything) and that I need to accept that my way is okay. Perhaps I don’t need to serve on one big project or focus all of my energy on one big cause. Could it be that doing many different smaller things, similar to my “jack of all trades, master of none” trademark approach to the world, is acceptable? And lo and behold I read your post where you suggest just that. Living according to who we are, not in competition or according to what may seem to be a right way instead of perhaps “my wrong way.” Thanks for this affirmation and sharing, Debbie.
Sounds like a great spiritual growth read
Yes, Laura, who you are is enough...a very beautiful enough. Keep on serving as God leads you to do so.
It is deep and thoughtful, for sure, Carol!
This book made a real imprint on me when I read it. It's still sometimes difficult to remember the message of the book in my day to day life, but the words of the book certainly resonate with me as does your well-written post, Debbie. I needed to hear your words this morning, and you have also inspired me to read the book again.
I have not read any of his books, but reading what you shared here made me stop and think. I have a real fear of just 'status quo' and plodding along, and don't want that to be my next phase of life. I've been so swallowed up in working every day for well over 40 years that I'm only recently stopping to take notice of who I am, and it's both frightening (to realize how much I've lost track or don't even know) and exhilarating to think that I can change all that going forward. This REALLY made me think Debbie, thank you for sharing. Reading this was like slamming on the brakes and thinking, 'wait a minute!!' - life's getting away from me and is this how it's going to be? How much is lost in NOT changing? Too much, for starters. I suspect that fear is one reason people keep living the same life without being open to change. I needed to see this.
Thank you so much for the introduction to a new author. I really love the quote that he chose for the first chapter! That was awesome!
Hopping over from #OvertheMoon
Thank you so much for introducing me to a new author, he sounds great! I love his quote in the beginning of the first chapter.
Hopping over from #OvertheMoon
Thank you Sharon, Karen and Amy for your lovely thoughts. Blessings to all of you as you go through your week!
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