Coming Alive

Immortal DiamondI can’t remember the last time I finished a book, thought to myself, “I will never be the same again,” and began rereading to figure out why. Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond did this to me.

What changed? Rohr reframed the story of Jesus—the Christian story—as an invitation for human transformation. Writing this makes it sound obvious, but the real implications are huge, for Christians and everyone who has to live in our pseudo-Christian culture.

To Rohr, birth, death, and resurrection aren’t just events that happened to Jesus. They’re a path humans travel. Christians tend to believe this literally: We’re born (as bits of incarnated Spirit), we live, we die, we go to heaven. What Rohr did for me was frame this path figuratively, as a spiritual journey bringing us ever nearer to our best and truest selves—if we participate with intention. We can die to that which stands in the way of life. We can let go of what’s false and experience the “revelation of our True Selves”—Rohr’s interpretation of resurrection. The False Self—who we are on the surface—sees in parts, hierarchies, and only in reference to itself. The True Self—who we are at our core—sees in wholeness and communion; it shows itself when we’re deeply silent or in love.

None of this has anything to do with what we believe or don’t believe. It’s the way the world works. Our job is to die to falsehood and be born in truth.

The great gift of Christianity’s teaching is divine incarnation, the union of holiness and matter. Jesus is divine and human—sure; Christians say this all the time—but to Rohr the risen Christ is emblematic of, or rather is, our True Self, our essential nature, what’s possible for you and me when we’re fully conscious. In the paradoxical way of our world works, this union is what we long for and it already exists. We know endless life when we know love. We shamelessly, beautifully, want more and more love. This longing for love is divinity in us, aching to come alive.

I won’t ever see the faith of my upbringing the same. And I’m deeply grateful.

–Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

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I’m back in the teaching saddle!  Check out my fall writing classes:

September 26, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.:  Writing the Sacred Journey:  The Art & Practice of Spiritual Memoir, Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality.
October 16, November 20, December 18, 1:30-3:30 p.m.: Spiritual Memoir drop-in classes.
October 31, 9-12 a.m.:  Revision Revolution workshop, The Loft Literary Center.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Good morning, Elizabeth,
    Thanks for writing “Coming Alive.” I really enjoyed reading it.
    Rohr is the best “thing” the Catholic Church has going for it, in my view anyway. I read his daily meditations and look forward to meeting him someday.
    I have just published a little book, a spiritual memoir titled “Grace in a Wintry Season,” about the transformation I have experienced as a result of paying attention to what has been taking place in my soul. It is focused on fourteen dreams occurring over a number of years and on one extraordinary inner vision (mystical experience). If you think you might find it of interest—it’s an instance of what Rohr treats in “Immortal Diamond”—I would be happy to send you a copy as soon as I receive the copies I have ordered from Amazon (estimated will be September 23rd).
    Warmly,
    Ed Steinmann, JD
    Saint James, Missouri

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Ed, and the offer of your book. I’m certainly willing to take a look at it. Yes, Rohr makes me hopeful that significant change is on Christianity’s horizon!

      Reply

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