Papa, (the grandfather formerly known as Grampa, morphed by Caroline and Alice into Papa), has continued to be delinquent in his writing to all of you on a consistent basis. I have much catching up to do with Circus Girl and Lily especially. Caroline, as you know, you are a once a month person at this point. But as a way of explanation, I offer the following thoughts about my own personal struggles in this wild and crazy life I have been given.
Seems this spiritual life, like my name, is constantly being morphed into something else. I’m not saying that is bad. You should know that if you become very intentional about this great Mystery we call God you will find the plates shifting all the time as far as your own understanding of God. Does God shift, maybe? But I really don’t know but life has a way of peeling back layers and layers of our conditioning so we might see better just what it is we need to see for the moment. Paul reminds us that we see through a glass dimly (darkly) but there will come a day when we see things just as they really are. Maybe that’s partly what I mean about an intentional spiritual life, seeing things as they truly are. For sure the reality is just what it is but it may take us a while to see it. And I am beginning to understand that the only way to see that reality is by dying. I don’t mean dying in the sense of not breathing anymore. I mean another kind of dying. The kind of dying Jesus talks about when he says “if you would find your life you must first lose it”. There are those who say we must die before we die. I’m still not sure just what that experience is but in some ways I believe I have been doing some dying over the last six months. It would be impossible for me to go into the details of that in this love letter to all of you but suffice it to say that I had to step back and do some deep personal work before I could begin to write to all you again. It has been wonderfully painful and tender at the same time. The pain was experienced mostly by my ego but the tenderness was experienced by my soul, a grace mysteriously given.
So I haven’t really been ignoring all of you. I just had some things to work on if I was going to try and continue to be a good Papa.
Let me sum it up by using one of my most favorite quotes from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
So here is Papa, arriving where he started, and knowing the place for the first time.
I’m not going to unpack all this for all of you. You need to do that for yourselves, just like I am and will continue to do until the day I take my last breath.
I will leave you with these words from Richard Rohr’s Book, Immortal Diamond
The Song of The True Self
Within us there is an inner, natural dignity. (You often see it in older folks.)
An inherent worthiness that already knows and enjoys. (You see it in children.)
It is an immortal diamond waiting to be mined and is never discovered undesired.
It is a reverence humming with you that must be honored.
Call it soul, the unconscious, deep consciousness, or the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Call it nothing.
It does not need the right name or right religion to show itself.
It does not even need to be understood. It is usually wordless.
It just is, and shows itself best when we are silent, or in love, or both.
I will call it the True Self here.
It is God-in-All-Things yet not circumscribed by any one thing.
It is enjoyed only when each part is in union with all other parts,
Because only then does it stand in the full truth.
Once in a while, this True Self becomes radiant and highly visible in one lovely place or person.
Superbly so, and for all to see, in the body of the Risen Christ.
And note That I did say “body.” It begins here and now in our embodied state in this world. Thus, the Christ Mystery travels the roads of time.
Once you have encountered this True Self—and once is more than enough—the False Self will begin to fall away on its own.
This will take most of your life, however, just as it did in Jesus.