A remarkable thought from Richard Rohr, which, if I read it thoughtfully enough, I think might get me through the day:
“Somewhere each day we have to fall in love, with someone, something, some moment, event, phrase, animal, or person. And it must be done quite definitively! Somehow each day we must allow a softening of our heart, which usually moves toward hardness and separation without our even knowing it. We can now prove neurologically that it is easier to move toward cynicism, bitterness, fear and despair than it is toward goodness, beauty, or appreciation. All spirituality is intended to help us recognize and counter our downward spiral toward smallness.
The world often tries to conjure up life by making itself falsely excited, by creating parties, even when there is no actual reason to celebrate. I have often noted in poor countries how people create fiestas because they have survived another season or even another day. We create fiestas to create fiestas, which I guess is not all bad; but after a while the ungirding of joy and contentment is not there.
We have to create and discover the parties of the heart, the place where we know we can enjoy what is, and that we have indeed survived and even flourished another day of our one and only life. Just make sure you are somewhere, and always, definitively in love! Then you’ll see rightly, because only when we are in love can we accept the mystery that almost everything is.”
Now to some of us, I imagine Fr Richard’s words, or words like these may sound unrealistic or sentimental; which reaction may, of course, itself be a result of the ease with which he tells us our minds move toward cynicism. There may be other reasons, too, perhaps especially challenging for people who have been around meditation and spiritual practices for longer than they care to remember, but still find that they don’t seem to work; or they don’t always work; or they don’t often work. I’m a mix of both – cynicism betrays me frequently, making me fear the worst of myself and of others, taking me away from experiencing contentment, and, worst of all, detaching me from my sense of self. At the same time, I’ve been around spirituality ‘masters’ for a long time; I’ve tried a fairly wide gamut of seeking – from conservative evangelicalism to charismatic exuberance to wilderness testing to something like very amateur zen and much in between. There was something beautiful, and something troubling about each of these. But there’s also something deeply compelling about Richard’s suggestion that, if love is harder than cynicism, then we should devote more time to investing in love, because cynicism has more than enough nourishment to keep it alive without us tending to it, watering it, making sure it has the right food. It will only die through being overwhelmed by love. The kind of love that Richard calls ‘definitive’ needs to be chosen. It isn’t just going to happen.