Pastor’s Friday Comments (08.21.20)

Each morning during my devotional time I read a meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation, usually by its founder, Father Richard Rohr. Last week, this week, and next he is leading his readers to consider the natural process that leads to spiritual health but must pass through order to disorder before coming to a spiritual re-order.

Most of us are stuck with a desperate grip on order, wanting everything to be predictable and comfortable. We hold on to traditions and rigid rules, often longing for a past time that never really was. Much of the resistance to change that we see in our society today isn’t because change might lead to something better; we resist because it will lead to something that we can neither predict nor control.

However, Father Rohr points out that, whether we like it or not, some disorder will eventually come into our lives. He writes:

Sooner or later, if we are on any classic “spiritual schedule,” some event, person, death, idea, or relationship will enter our lives that we simply cannot deal with using our present skill set, our acquired knowledge, or our strong willpower…. Spiritually speaking, we will be led to the edge of our own private resources. At that point we will stumble over a necessary stumbling stone, as Isaiah calls it (8:14). We will and must “lose” at something. This is the only way that Life–Fate–God–Grace–Mystery can get us to change, let go of our egocentric preoccupations, and go on the further and larger journey.

These are usually personal and individual disruptions, but right now, I would say that we are collectively going through a pretty significant time of disorder. In fact, it is unlikely that any of us have experienced anything remotely like the current pandemic. And even if some of us have, on a global level there hasn’t been anything like this in our lifetimes.

Since our comfort zones usually work for us, there is no compelling reason to leave them. It has to be forced upon us, and even then, Rohr notes, we will try to “‘succeed’ in the midst of our failure and ‘order’ our time in disorder!” He posits instead that we must actually be out of the driver’s seat for a while, “or we will never learn to give up control to the Real Guide. It is the necessary pattern.”

That’s what it feels like right now, isn’t it? We’re not in the driver’s seat and the driver’s seat is, for most of us, the most comfortable place for us to be. For the time being, we can’t go where we want to go, see whom we want to see, do what we want to do, at least not with the level of freedom to which we are accustomed.

But this period of disorder can lead to a far greater re-order, a life not bound by our expectations or ability to control. It can lead to a world where God truly is the one in the driver’s seat. No one ever said that a time of disorder is pleasant, but it is necessary. And now, when a time of disorder has been forced on us all, we might as well live in it, letting God take us where we need to be.