I don't often re-read books, but this summer I've taken up Richard Rohr's Breathing Underwater for the second time. It's a Christian interpretation/application of the 12-step program, a spiritual path surprisingly rich regardless of our relationship with alcohol.
Rohr has many insights, but among the most profound is this:
We each have our inner program for happiness.... and are blissfully unaware that these cannot work for us for the long haul - without our becoming more and more control freaks ourselves.... Here is the incestuous cycle of the ego: 'I want to have power> I will take control> I will always be right> See, I am indeed powerful!' This is the vicious circle of the will to power. It does not create happy people, nor happy people around them. (p. 20)
Instead of 'power, control, and correctness' Christian faith suggests that the way to happiness is renunciation, trust, and love, words increasingly foreign in our culture's lexicon. And yet, in this path of faith there is real life.
I also read this week about Philip Simmons, a former English Professor at Lake Forest College in Illinois, who was 35 years old when diagnosed with ALS. He battled ALS for 10 years. During those years, he wrote Learning to Fall. He wrote: "We know we are truly grown up when we stop trying to fix people. About all we can really do for people is love them and treat them with kindness. ... Others don't need 'fixing' so much as simple kindness."
I wonder if that's why the woman in this week's scripture passage was so profoundly influential, because she understood that the authentic spiritual path was not 'power, control, and correctness' but renunciation, trust and love. You can read it here and decide for yourself.
See you this weekend,