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An Expansive Soul

Updated: Mar 17

Time shapes who we are, where we go and what we become. Richard Rohr, in his provocative book 'Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life', writes that the first half of life is about identity...Who am I? Shaped by discovering what we are good at, what we believe, who will go with us. Such questions are essential.

By the second half of life, our questions change. We've been humbled. We've made mistakes, experienced heartache, a breach of trust, changes to strength and health. Fueled by such experiences we ask: What do I really believe? What do I truly value? When the shit hits the fan where do we find meaning, comfort, wisdom, hope?

Some of us, offers Rohr, choose not to wrestle with such questions. Choosing to double down on answers from the first half of life. If that works for you, then fine. Others of us choose to enter into the depths of our experience in search of a nugget of truth, deeper understanding, a glimmer of light.

Perhaps you grew up in a faith tradition that placed God in a box, saying 'this is what God is, nothing more and nothing less'. What if that box seems too small?

Such a journey is not for the faint of heart. It is disorienting. It can alter how others see us and interact with us. At the extreme we can lose our tribe and sense of who we are.

Yet, it can also offer a new way forward. A new vantage point to understand the world and our place within it. A hard earned and more expansive way of being.

Howard Thurman, the African American mystic and theologian says the choice is ours. We can remain safely anchored in the harbor. With familiar beliefs and customs that anchor us. Or, he writes, 'we can leave the safety of the harbor and go out where the big ships sail.'

One of the great friendships in my life, was Win Dolan. He lived to 100 and one day. I was his pastor and was with him when he died. We became friends when I was 38 and he was a youngster of 80. At age 96 he wrote his spiritual autobiography. He grew up in a family of faith. His Dad was a Baptist minister. He told me that as he aged, the bigger his concept of the Divine became. The teachings of his Christian faith still held meaning, yet any such understandings were merely pointers towards that which was so much more. More than the human imagination can fully grasp.

With the years Win Dolan became ever more expansive. He showed a willingness to let go of that which no longer resonated and to move toward the unknown. Graced with a deep seated trust that the Source of all that is good, lasting and true was with him. For Win, the Creator was both cosmic and close.

What about you? As you think about your life what serves you well and what do you feel led to let go of? Considering such questions takes courage. And, while each persons journey is unique, it can help to walk alongside others. To be open to the wisdom and comfort that we find in the company of other travelers. We need not move forward alone.

Within my Christian tradition, there is a concept called 'prevenient grace'. A belief that the goodness of the Creator goes before us. Preparing the way for that which is life giving. Prevenient grace can't be earned or lost. It is simply the essence of that Creative force that brought the cosmos (including you and me) into being.

Wherever your journey leads, may you too be graced with courage, blessing and peace. Travel well.

With you on the journey ~ Kent Harrop

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