By Richard Rohr
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Additional resources for AARP Falling Upward. A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
2. Spirituality. I. Title. 4—dc22 2010049429 Excerpt from “East Coker” Part V in Four Quartets. S. Eliot and renewed 1968 by Esme Valerie Eliot. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company and Faber and Faber Ltd. Excerpt from “The Dry Salvages” Part II in Four Quartets. S. Eliot and renewed 1969 by Esme Valerie Eliot. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company and Faber and Faber Ltd. “Wenn etwas mir vom Fenster fallt…/How surely gravity's law” from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.
No one would choose such upheaval consciously; we must somehow “fall” into it. Those who are too carefully engineering their own superiority systems will usually not allow it at all. It is much more done to you than anything you do yourself, and sometimes nonreligious people are more open to this change in strategy than are religious folks who have their private salvation project all worked out. This is how I would interpret Jesus' enigmatic words, “The children of this world are wiser in their ways than the children of light” (Luke 16:8).
Here is my summary of the key points for our purposes, which I hope you will find very telling: 1. Odysseus receives this prophecy at the point in his story when he is traveling through Hades, the kingdom of the dead and thus “at the bottom,” as it were. It is often when the ego is most deconstructed that we can hear things anew and begin some honest reconstruction, even if it is only half heard and halfhearted. 2. Teiresias is “holding a golden sceptre” when he gives Odysseus the message. I would interpret that as a symbol of the message's coming from a divine source, an authority from without and beyond, unsolicited or unsought, and maybe even unwanted by Odysseus himself.
AARP Falling Upward. A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr