Finding Your Center
Originally posted August 20, 2011
When my clients are at the end of their rope and looking for direction they often ask me to recommend a book. I usually hesitate since most of us are hoping for easy answers to complex questions when our backs are up against the wall. Yet when the questions are spiritual and suffering is the issue I often send them to “Everything Belongs.” In my opinion this book by Richard Rohr should be subtitled an introduction to adult faith and suffering. It’s a wonderful primer for Christians who grew up believing that if they lead a faithful life God will protect them from bad things. Although most of us would be embarrassed to admit this was our paradigm, our security blanket, it’s often what we cling to until life as we know it stops working. For most of us this happens around mid-life.
Rohr begins his book with, “We are a circumference people, with little access to the center. We live on the boundaries of our own lives confusing edges with essence, claiming the superficial as substance. Perhaps the greatest sin of our time is superficiality.” I couldn’t agree with him more.
We are unprepared for life when it smacks us in the face. We really thought we would be different from the rest. We superficially thought we could escape suffering if we adopted the status quo and kept our heads down. As a result we are not acquainted with our Center. We don’t know who we are separate from what others expect of us and we believe that God is out there controlling the universe. The last time I checked the world is too evil and in too much pain for me to believe that he’s in control of everything. But I do believe God is at our Center. Our churches have taught us what to “believe” and how to live moral lives. But they have seldom taught us how to pray. The only way I see people connect with their Center is through prayer, love, or suffering. When you don’t know how to pray and the family you grew up in didn’t love you very well you are left with suffering as your teacher.
What if we had the courage to listen to what wisdom teachers have to share about life and suffering? Rather than forgetting to read the part in the Gospels where Jesus says to “live for today because tomorrow has enough problems of it’s own.” We are too “Christian” to benefit from Buddhist teaching that always begins with life is suffering. We shy away from books like “The Road Less Traveled” because Peck’s first words are “life is difficult.”
Now is the time to prepare yourself for suffering. The best way is by finding your Center. Few of us were taught how to do this so you are not alone. Take some time to walk in nature. Find the time to sit with a journal and honestly write about how you “feel” about your life. Take a yoga class and listen to what your body is telling you. Find a therapist and heal the wounds of your past that keep you from befriending your Center. Most of the world lives on the edges with little access to the Center. Choose to live your life differently. Be prepared!