I mentioned on Day Eighteen that God gives us companions in exile. God speaks to us words of comfort through people, certain Bible passages, and authors (some people added “music” to my list). Today, I want to begin sharing a few readings from one of my exile “friends” – Richard Rohr.
I had never heard of Rohr until about a year ago when a friend of mine recommended his book: Failing Forward. Since then I’ve been getting daily emails with excerpts from his many writings. I wish I would have known about Rohr in all my exiles. His words cut to the essence of life and walking with God. Here is a reprint of a recent post from his daily blog:
You Can’t Make Love All Dressed Up – Richard Rohr
We fear nothingness. That’s why we fear death, of course, which feels like nothingness. Death is the shocking realization that everything I thought was me, everything I held onto so desperately, was finally nothing (read Kathleen Dowling Singh’s The Grace in Dying: How We Are Transformed Spiritually As We Die).
The nothingness we fear so much is, in fact, the treasure and freedom that we long for, which is revealed in the joy and glory of the Risen Christ. We long for the space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect; where I am who I am, in the mind and heart of God, and that is more than enough.
The nothingness we fear so much is, in fact, the treasure and freedom that we long for…
Spirituality teaches us how to get naked ahead of time, so God can make love to us as we really are. Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 333, day 344 (Available through Franciscan Media)
The pain of exile is the stripping that takes place. Not only does the stripping hurt but the fear of being naked and having nothing can be suffocating. But the beauty of having gone through an exile is when, after the stripping is over, you can truthfully say…I’m okay. I’m naked, but I’m okay.
I remember my parents fighting about the lyrics to a song when I was a kid. It was called, “Is that all there is?” The song listed a number of traumatic events, like your house burning down. Then the refrain was: Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing, and have a ball, if that’s all there is.
My dad thought it was a stupid song because, of course you would hate your house burning down. My mom saw the freedom of not being impacted by the tragedy.
I can relate to what Rohr said about not having anything to prove or protect. After coming out of my personal exiles, I now see every gain as a great bonus. I know what’s it’s like to have nothing. I really thought I might live the rest of my life in poverty and without ministry. So now that I have both I’m just extremely grateful. If I lost it all tomorrow, I can’t be sure, but I think I could “just keep dancing.” At least I hope I could.
How about you? Have you come to that place yet or are you still in process? What needs to happen for you to let go off the fear of being “naked.” Please leave a comment and share this on Facebook if it meant something to you.