Peter and the other disciples had fished all night, but caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus appeared and asked, “Children, you have no fish, have you? Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it all in because there were so many fish.
The basic premise of Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward is simple, but not particularly easy: There are two major tasks in life. The first task is to create a proper container for one’s life. The container is not an end in itself, but exists for the sake of the second task in life: discovering the actual contents of this container, our deeper and fullest life. “Far too many people, however, just keep doing repair work on the container itself,” says Rohr and never “throw their nets into the deep to bring in the huge catch that awaits them.”
As Rohr points out, “The two halves of life are cumulative and sequential. Both are very necessary.” But it is easy to become preoccupied or obsessed with the container. Most of history has been the forging of structures to defend the container—defend one’s group or identity—first half of life concerns. “We all want and need various certitudes, constants, and insurance policies at every stage of life” says Rohr, “but we have to be careful, or they totally take over and become all controlling needs, keeping us from further growth.” If we do not move beyond our early motivations of power/control, safety/security, affection/esteem—what Rohr calls the the fear-based preoccupation of the “lizard brain’—we will never proceed beyond the lower stages of human or spiritual development.
Mature spirituality depends on learning the difference between the container of our lives and the contents of the container. Our world is yearning for emotionally and spiritually mature “elders”/sages/leaders. As Rohr wrote in 2011: mature societies were meant to be led by elders, seniors, saints and the initiated . . .without this kind of maturity, “the blind lead the blind.”
Join us this Sunday as we begin to parse the distinctions between the “container” and the “content” of our lives. We are trying something new this week. Two who are in the process of becoming members of our church (Kay Shores and Elaina Thiemann) and two who have been with our church since our beginnings (John and Diane Smith) have volunteered to do a “deep read” of chapter One in Falling Upward and will bring their insights to our discussion. We are in for a treat! It will make all the difference in the world if you join us!
With much love, Linda