Tag Archives: True Self

Spiritual Nomads in Search of God

When a person stops growing they begin to die.   That is true of us physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.   One of the advantages we experience in   growing old is that we have a chance to look back on  our lives with all of the joys and sorrows, gains and losses,  ugliness and beauty and still grow as we look for what Richard Rohr refers to as our “true selves” that emerge over time.   No longer do we   need to build  “a successful career”,  to “placate the boss”, to compete in the business, academic or religious world.  As we grow older we finally see that is not what our life was really about.   That turning- point in our lives comes for most of us when  something we cannot fix, mend, or control occurs and we turn to God and say:   “God, my life is in your hands.  I can’t do this without you!”   At that point we stop growing the “self” we have built up in our minds and the minds of our friends and family and   begin to grow our “true self” as one of God’s children.   

On my spiritual journey through life I spent the greater portion of the journey not knowing God.   Oh, I knew about God.   God was an intellectual construct that I made in theology classes in seminary.   I preached about God.   I married and buried people in God’s name-but I myself was  just a spiritual nomad wondering in the desert in search of a God I did not know.    Always in the back of my mind I considered myself a “fake” minister because of that.    It was not until the summer of 2010 and the sudden death of my wife of 50+ years that I finally ran into a situation that I could not fix, mend, or control.   I cried out to God:   “Help me!   I can’t get through this on my own.”   And I felt a peace come over me immediately that let me know that God was there, that God would lead me through the dark valley,  and that God loved me all along and had been there waiting for me to call on his name!

Now, as I look back on my life I see the hand of God everywhere I look and as I look forward I see God’s hand leading me.    God has blessed me with a loving and caring wife.   God has blessed me with loving and caring children and grandchildren.    God has blessed me with a peace I have never known before.  And God has blessed me with growth—-growth in my faith in God.  I am no longer a “spiritual nomad” searching for God.    I am  growing daily as God’s child through reading and study of the bible and through  reading of the writings of those in the Christian Faith who are seeking to make God a reality for those around them.    I am seeing that God’s only requirement for me is to love God with heart, soul, strength and mind and my neighbor as myself.    I am growing  still at 77 years of age and hope to continue for a long time.   But if I die tomorrow, that’s o.k.    I know that God loves me and will take care of me both in life and in death.

Are you a spiritual nomad?   Do you feel like the Prodigal Son?    Remember, God ran out to meet the prodigal son and threw his arms around him and welcomed him home.   He’s waiting to welcome you also!

‘Till I’m Too Old to Die Young…

There is an old country-wester song called “Too Old to Die Young” that says:  “Please don’t let the cold wind blow, till I’m too old to die young!”

Being 77 years old, I am more and more appreciative of that phrase because I have entered a new phase of life that is both scary and yet satisfying.

Fransciscan Friar, Richard Rohr, describes  two phases of life in his book “Falling Upward.”   His thesis is that you only enter the second phase of life when you suffer some tragedy in your life such as the death of a mate, a divorce, a job loss.  The first phase is occupied with striving to build a reputation, an identity, a career, etc.   It is something we try to do for ourselves..   The second Phase is much different.     For me, the second phase began with the death of my wife of 54 years, Dorene, suddenly and within a week.      For the first time in my life I felt I had no control over events.  I could only turn to God and cry out:   “Help me, I can’t go through this alone!”    Each time I cried out  a peace came upon me and I knew that God heard me and responded and that I was God’s child and He would get me through this “dark valley.”   I can testify that He did and I am now on the other side of the valley, back in the sunlight, but changed forever by the experience!

This second  phase of life is both scary and satisfyingscary because I am much more aware of my mortality.   The inexorable effects of living 77 years  remind me that my body is mortal.   The stresses and strains of living multiply  as we live longer and we realize that our bodies just can’t perform what we’d like them to do anymore.   For example, on a recent trip to visit my son and daughter-in-law in Rochester, NY, we went to Niagara Falls and I found myself—the father who took care of my son for many years—now being taken care of by my son.   On the visit to Niagara Falls it was not me carrying my son,  as I did often when he was young, but now it was him pushing me in a wheelchair so I could experience a ride on the Maid of the Mists boat at the Falls.   But it was satisfying in that I have lived “to see my children grow and see what they become” as the song goes.   Both of my children are kind, caring, responsible human beings who express their love for me, their mother,  and my present wife in unmistakable ways.    Truly, I think  that my children are the crowning achievement of my life, although I have achieved much.   Not that my wife and I did not make a lot of mistakes in raising them, but we always loved them and tried to be there for them, and now what we did is coming back to me in great measure!

So, this second phase of life is scary, but it is also very satisfying.   Richard Rohr, in his book Immortal Diamond says that our “true self” emerges in this second phase.   The first phase is occupied, of necessity, with building ourfalse self”, which is our identity that we create for ourselves, our reputation, inherently needy and fragile, our careers, etc.  It is the self that changes and dies.  The “false self” is not bad or even “false” as much as it is passing and self-built based on our constant striving.     On the other hand, our “true self” is who we really are as a child of God, created in his image, immortall; it is our souls, our absolute identity as a child of God.   The many things that bothered the “false self” are no longer our concerns.  There is no need to compete, no need to strive,  but we are free to live and let live according to God’s plan.   I feel at peace with God and his creation and feel a contentment that has not been mine as I was  striving to build the “false self” of my identity.

I am thankful every day that “the cold wind” of death has not blown on me “until I’m too old to die young!