Monday, January 22, 2007

Let the pain take you where you need to go

My cousin, Tim, just sent me the following piece by Ron Rolheiser. It is a very counter-cultural message but one that resonates with my own experience. It takes a similar view to Eugene Peterson's wonderful article "To Care and not to Care" (which is included in his wonderful book Subversive Spirituality).

Let the pain take you where you need to go
In Exile

During my last years of seminary training, I attended a series of lectures given by a prominent Polish psychologist, Casmir Dabrowski, teaching at the time at the University of Alberta. He had written a number of books around a concept he called "positive disintegration."

Positive disintegration. Isn't that an oxymoron? Isn't disintegration the opposite of growth and happiness?

It would seem not. A canon of wisdom drawn from the scriptures of all the major world religions, mystical literature, philosophy, psychology and human experience tells us that the journey to maturity and compassion is extremely paradoxical and that mostly we grow by falling apart.

Ancient myths talk about the need sometimes to "descend into the underworld," to live in darkness for a while, to sit in ashes so as to move to a deeper place inside of life; the mystics talk about "dark nights of the soul" as being necessary to bring about maturity; Ignatius of Loyola teaches that there is a place for both "consolation" and "desolation" in our lives; the Jewish Scriptures assure us that certain deep things can only happen to the soul when it is helpless and exposed in "the desert" or "the wilderness" and that sometimes, like Jonah, we need to be carried to some place where we'd rather not go "in the dark belly of the whale"; and, perhaps most challenging of all, we see that Jesus was only brought to full compassion through "sweating blood in Gethsemane" and then dying a humiliating death on the cross.

All of these images point to the same deep truth, sometimes in order to grow we must first fall apart, go into the dark, lose our grip on what's normal, enter into a frightening chaos, lose our everyday securities and be carried in pain to a place where, for all kinds of reasons, we weren't ready to go to on our own.

Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Joseph Fromm said...

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI is a theological nightmare.
Roll over Rolhesier!