I have greatly profited from the writing and spiritual insights of Fr. Richard Rohr, the well-known Catholic mystic/teacher/writer from New Mexico. His books have helped me grow in areas where my evangelical background left me short in terms of grasping how action (which defines so much of my life) meets solitude and contemplation (which I’ve discovered only in the last few years). Rohr directs the Center for Action and Contemplation. Each day the center emails an excerpt from something that Rohr wrote that is intended for personal reflection. A recent entry from the Center for Action and Contemplation underscored once again just how valuable his insights can be, especially when you are my age and longing to love God with a Christ-centered love that is growing deeper by the day.
The first half of life is invariably about creating identity, finding some boundary markers (traditions, trustworthy authorities and structures), making some money, getting an education, marrying, and raising children—which we then must defend for the rest of our lives. Most of us are so invested in these first answers by the age of 40, that we can’t imagine anything more—not realizing that “It’s still all about me!”
Christians in the first half of life became obsessed with dying a happy death and going to heaven. Even religion became a rather privatized evacuation plan for the next world, and the clergy seldom recognized that much of religion was trapped at the individualistic and egocentric level. No actual love of neighbor, outsider, the poor, or even God was really necessary. This is “garden variety” first half of life religion, and it has passed for the real thing for much of the Christian era.