Order — Disorder — Reorder

This is from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today, July 25

Living in a transitional age such as ours is scary: things are falling apart, the future is unknowable, so much doesn’t cohere or make sense. We can’t seem to put order to it. This is the postmodern panic. It lies beneath most of our cynicism, our anxiety, and our aggression. Yet, there is little in the biblical revelation that ever promised us an ordered universe.     

Chaos often precedes great creativity, and faith precedes great leaps into new knowledge. The pattern of transformation begins in order, but it very quickly yields to disorder and—if we stay with it long enough in love—eventual reordering. Our uncertainty is the doorway into mystery, the doorway into surrender, the path to God that Jesus called “faith.” In her work on “crisis contemplation,” CAC teacher Barbara Holmes confirms what we and others have long suspected—that great suffering and great love are the two universal paths of transformation. Both are the ultimate crises for the human ego. Barbara writes:

The crisis begins without warning, shatters our assumptions about the way the world works, and changes our story and the stories of our neighbors. The reality that was so familiar to us is gone suddenly, and we don’t know what is happening. . . .

If life, as we experience it, is a fragile crystal orb that holds our daily routines and dreams of order and stability, then sudden and catastrophic crises shatter this illusion of normalcy. . . . I am referring to oppression, violence, pandemics, abuses of power, or natural disasters and planetary disturbances. . . .

We can identity three common elements in every crisis: The event is usually unexpected, the person or community is unprepared, and there is nothing that anyone could do to stop it from happening. Even if there are signs everywhere that something is not right, we tend to ignore the warnings and the signposts.

Rohr often talks about the process Order — Disorder — Reorder.  Francis Weller also talks about three stages in both trauma and initiation.

In any true initiatory process, there’s three things that happen. First, there’s a severance from the world that you once knew. Then there’s a radical alteration in your sense of identity. And then there’s a profound realization that you can never go back to the world that was. In true initiation, you don’t want to go back to the world that was. Initiation is meant to escort you into a wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos.

Trauma, on the other hand, has the inverse effect. The same three things happen. There’s a severance from the world. There’s a radical alteration of the identity and in a sense, you cannot go back to what was. But what trauma does to the psyche is it reduces it down to a singularity. I become cut off and severed from that sense of being engaged with a wider and more encompassing sense of identity. I become isolated in the cosmos. If you talk to anybody who’s gone through trauma, that’s the effect that it has on the body and on the psyche. You are torn out of that sense of being a part of the cosmos.

Many people now want to get back to the old normal.  Many others recognize that the old normal was extremely unhealthy and unsustainable.  As Weller says, we need to open ourselves to a “wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos.”  I have been reciting those words “wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos,” and beginning to find them very comforting.  I have gotten back to my vision of the Universe as a profoundly intelligent, profoundly complex, sacred process.

In Quaker Meeting this morning, someone gave us two quotes: “Man plans, God laughs,” and “Either you live like nothing is a miracle, or you live like everything is a miracle.”  I thought about Hydrogen burning into Helium, Lithium, Boron, Carbon, Oxygen, etc and making possible this incredibly beautiful diverse and complex world we inhabit…  I looked at Pleiades and thought — can you make luck happen?  can you break the law of gravity? Something about Rohr’s daily meditation suggested that god’s universe is a complex adaptive system, that very well might not behave like our predictions.  We simply don’t have enough information to make accurate predictions.  Anything could happen.  Every little thing we do to help direct things toward “a wider, more inclusive, participatory, sacred cosmos” makes a difference.

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