Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Father Rohr on "Surrender"

I've been saving this quote to share with you since before Thanksgiving. You know how I love Richard Rohr's viewpoint, and how much I refer to him. His writings have been instrumental in my Christian education (since well before Katie became sick), as I was studying them in church classes. They have been, and continue to be, part of my life-raft in the sea of grief.

"Question of the Day:  How am I ready to surrender?

"I believe profoundly in the necessity of surrender, but I don’t think we can chart its course ahead of time. Our own private salvation projects seldom do the job. Surrender is something that is done to us, more than something we do ourselves.

"In Joseph Campbell’s book on the hero’s journey, he says that the only way to be a hero is to prepare and be ready for when the moment comes. You might say that is the point of all spirituality.

"Someone else must determine the timing, the circumstances, the shape of the ordeal. None of us can engineer our own transformation—or it would not be transformation at all, but merely cosmetic surgery to make us 'think well of ourselves.'

"You can’t choose ahead of time which dragon you’ll slay or how you will slay it. It will probably slay you. So just make sure you are well-practiced in dying."
     -Richard Rohr, Adapted from Near Occasions of Grace, p. 112

I am beyond thankful that I was on a spiritual path, years before Katie was diagnosed with cancer. I don't know how I would have survived her illness, the circumstances surrounding it, or her passing, without the years of intentional study and spiritual direction. That is what gave me a framework, strength, community, reference points and eyes to see God's goodness - in the midst of what felt like horrendous evil. It hasn't been easy:  I didn't escape the pain, and this path hasn't removed the pain. Yet having an intentional practice, giving myself to God over the years, has given me something to draw upon - a place to rest - when I am exhausted from the changes and demands of this "new life." My relationship with God endures, and He is Love, a "refuge & strength, a very present help in trouble."

I am thankful for the freedom to receive a spiritual education, and for the education that I received (and am still receiving). It's one of the greatest gifts of my life.

GriefHaven is a group that supports grieving parents through their website, chats, publications, etc. They put out a wonderful monthly newsletter, and they have a DVD ("Portraits of Hope") that helped to give me hope, back in the beginning of this journey. Their current monthly newsletter talks about grief from the perspective of a grief therapist, who also happens to be the mother of a stillborn daughter (born 22 years ago). It's excellent.

9 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Once again, your post resonates with me. Thank you, Karen.

Busy Bee Suz said...

So much thought here Karen.
I am glad you found this group to help you through your grief...it seems grief is such a personal issue, but hearing how others deal with it must have some effect as well.
Hugs, Suz

Karen said...

I loved the link. Thanks so much for that. I identified a lot with that grieving mom, especially when she talked about being beside herself. I am not beside myself now, or at least only occasionally, but I still struggle so much with acceptance. I am always amazed by your acceptance. I don't quite understand it, but figure you are ahead of me and explaining it bit by bit with your posts. Or maybe you just have a gift for that or your spiritual insights have led you there. I liked what Rohr said about being ready to die, because the dragon will slay you. Yep, that's the truth.

Also, and most importantly, I love that picture of you and Katie. Both of your radiate and you share eyes that sparkle in the same exact way.

karen gerstenberger said...

@ Karen: I had so much resistance in the beginning; you should have seen me. But the cancer journey took some of that out of me. We went through so much during Katie's illness, and were told at three different times that she was going to die...before she actually did. I think that helped me to learn to try to work with the circumstances, rather than fighting them. But I still resisted accepting her death, especially in the first year; my earlier postings probably show more of that.
Father Rohr's ideas were, and still are, a huge help. XO

Karen said...

Thanks for that, Karen. You are always so good to explain. I can see how an expected death might be different from a sudden death. I can also see how cancer can kick the fight out of a person. I have read a little of Richard Rohr, but have a renewed interest based on the help his words have been to you. Where would you recommend I start? Do you have a title?
Thanks so very much.

karen gerstenberger said...

@ Karen: I would suggest starting with "Radical Grace," his book of daily meditations; it draws from a lot of his writings. Two other favorites are "Everything Belongs" and "Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality." And while I'm at it, I have to mention Thomas Keating's book about the parables of Jesus, called "The Kingdom of God is Like..." Sending XO to you.

Karen said...

Thank you, Karen. Missing my son terribly right now.

MB said...

Just started reading my favorite book "Surrender" for about the 3rd time. I think I could almost recite it and yet still hard to live it. so interesting though that each time I read it, I am more and more comfortable with the concept and am moved along the surrender continuum a bit farther. AMEN to work, study, and spiritual direction....where would we be today without all that preamble to the last few years. Love you bunches!!!!

Renee said...

Karen I have never read anything from him.

I will go buy myself something this weekend.

What do you recommend.

Love Renee xoxoxo

p.s. the picture of you and Katie is gorgeous.