Humanity is like an enormous spider web so that if you touch it anywhere, you set the whole thing trembling . . . As we move around this world and as we act with kindness, perhaps, or with indifference, or with hostility, toward the people we meet, we too are setting that great spider web a-tremble. The life that I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place and time my touch will be felt. Our lives are linked together. No man is an island.
Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark
At any moment we can see—if we really stop and look— what has been set “a-trembling” from some distant touch of the web that binds us. What touch of the web set in motion the loss of electricity and water during this “once in a generation” winter event? Whatever the cause(s), when the trembling stopped, the lived experience was anything but uniform. I have friends who, anticipating “spotty” power, decamped immediately to the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Austin, not risking a moment of discomfort. Some, after three days staying the course in the dark and cold, found safe haven on the couches of friends and family. I can’t stop thinking about those living in tents a few miles away from us. Did they make it to a shelter?
As Richard Rohr points out in Falling Upward, the ego—and most institutions—demand a tit-for-tat universe and you can see that all too well as fingers start pointing at those whose hands touched—even indirectly—this particular web. I can’t think of a better place to put into practice what we are learning about a second half of life, spiritually mature, response. Should there be an accounting of our systems and responses during this storm? Of course! What would a dualistic, either/or approach to the accounting look like and manifest? What would a both/and approach yield? In the second half of life, says Rohr, you can actually bless others in what they feel they must do, allow them to do what they must do, and challenge them if they are hurting themselves or others. A challenge by the spiritually mature empowers, opens up new possibilities. This is the essence of the New Creation.
The Wisdom of the second-half-of life swims in a sea of abundance and grace Rohr says, reminding us that in the Gospel, at the end of the day, the employer pays those who worked part of a day just as much as those who worked the whole day. This does not compute except at the level of soul. This is why we need second-half-of-life people. Without them Rohr says, “you can be sure that those who come at the end of the day, those who are at the back of the line, or those who live on the edge of what we call normal will never get paid,” will be left in the cold and dark.
May we join together this Sunday so that the Breath of Life and Love may breathe anew in each of us, not only for our own sakes, but for the sake of those lives we touch through the web that connects us all. Yolanda Logan, Barbara Michel, and Eugenia Koog have taken a deep dive for us into Chapter 12 of Falling Upward. We will be greatly served by their input! It will mean a great deal to see each of you this Sunday. Many blessings, Linda
Reflection questions for chapter 12, Falling Upward*
- How can you honor the legitimate needs of the first half of life (being practical, efficient, and revenue generating) while creating space, vision, time, and grace for the second half of life?
- Reflect upon how holding the tension between maintaining the container of your life and the contents of your life is the very shape of wisdom.
*Questions taken from the Companion Journal of Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.