Spiritual Truths

No one ever makes it to adulthood alone.  For many of us, our first shapers were our parents.  And then, there were teachers, friends and sometimes even a few enemies.  A number of times I have been through an exercise to recall important, formative members of my past.  It is an easy list to pull out of my memory.  Because I am getting older, many of the names on my list are now dead.  But that does not mean their influence necessarily stopped.

Some of the people who have had a formative role in my life are people I never met.  Again, some of them are deceased.  In fact, some have been dead for centuries.  I think of people like the Apostle Paul, Augustine, and the Buddha.  Others died much more recently.  Here I think of people like Thomas Merton, my favorite monk, and Thomas Kelly, one of my favorite Quakers whom I never met.  Their writings played a key role in my spiritual development.

And then, there are the people who have influenced me and who still are living.  Because they still live, many of them continue to influence me.  Some I know very well and others I have only met once or twice.  People in this later category would have no idea how influential they have been in my life.  Among the people who fit here is Richard Rohr.  Rohr is basically my age.  He grew up in Kansas in a Roman Catholic family.  As he became more seriously involved in his spiritual pilgrimage, he was led to become a Franciscan friar.

Rohr has published many books.  And he also has a daily blog.  I have nearly daily interactions with Rohr, for which I am grateful.  Recently in one of his pieces he listed five things that I want to call spiritual truths.  They are important truths.  I see them as stepping stones to spiritual maturity.  I don’t think you can grow very much until you begin to understand the truth of each one.  As you do, you will be free to grow and mature into the spiritual person God wants from each of us.

Here are the five spiritual truths.  We can look briefly at each one.
1. Life is hard.
2. You are not that important.
3. Your life is not about you.
4. You are not in control.
5. You are going to die.

I don’t care how pampered you might be as you grow up, at some point each of us is going to realize life is hard.  Inevitably there will be some pain and suffering.  Things will not always go right.  There are many other things that will remind us that life is hard.  But life can always have meaning and purpose.  That is what spirituality provides us.

The second spiritual truth is one that people have different ways of learning.  For some of us, it is hard to learn that we are not that important.  This must be especially true for the stars and heroes of our age.  Social media turns some folks into larger-than-life figures.  It might be hard for them to learn they are not that important.  I like to make the difference between being important and special.  None of us are that important.  But every one of us is special---at least, special in the eyes of God.  After all, we were created in the image of God.

The third truth pronounces that my life is not about me.  The purpose of this truth is to lead us away from an egocentric, self-centered way of life.  If your life is not about something bigger than yourself, then ultimately life will be disappointing.  Becoming spiritual puts us on the path of knowing this truth.

The fourth truth says that we are not in control.  This is a tough lesson for all of us who control and manipulate our way through life.  But deep down, we know that we are not in control.  As I understand this truth, it frees me up to be a partner with God in the work of healing the world.

Finally, we are going to die.  Coming to terms with this will ultimately free us.  We will be freed to live in love instead of fear.  See appropriately, it is good news, not scary of bad news.  To be fully spiritual is to know all five truths---and be free.

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