Wisdom, Major Deaths & Transformation

I was reading Fr. Rohr’s meditation the other day. I should say that when I read it, I was thinking about grief already, thinking about loss. It was the week prior to my final goodbye at New Community where I served for a touch over eleven years. Even though I made the change for good reasons, it was still a change.

That change was laced with loss and that loss meant grief. I am grieving that loss, grieving that change. Of course, there are other changes and losses, too. I, like you, am grieving more than one thing at a time. I try to stay in some touch with those losses to respect them, to hear them, and to learn from them.

Fr. Rohr was discussing Walter Brueggemann’s observation that the Torah, the Prophets, and the Wisdom Literature (three scriptural categories in the first testament of the Christian scriptures and the three parts of revelation making up the Hebrew Bible) represent the development of human consciousness. These three parts of biblical witness present what it means for humans to be, to become. Fr. Rohr was underlining the importance of these three types of witness in life.

We need to be reminded of our original createdness in God’s community (Torah is our instruction in that very truth). We need to live close to those voices that help us look beyond ourselves, our egos, and our small commitments (Prophets do that). We require for living well criticality that helps us see honestly how to live toward the self and others (Wisdom offers those guides).

It was in this brief reflection that Fr. Rohr said,

Wisdom literature reveals an ability to be patient with mystery and contradictions—and the soul itself. Wise people have always passed through a major death to their egocentricity. This is the core meaning of transformation.

I find it taxing, staying true to transformation. It’s hard to be faithful to transformation because in being faithful to that change, I’m signing up for continued self-noticing and continued self-growth. I’m setting myself in places where I plan to notice others and plan to grow others. I plan not to die in one sense. In another sense, this is absolute death. This is surrender. It’s scary. It’s major.

If you’re feeling your own grief, passing through a death (whether it’s minor or major to you), name it as a part of your transformation. The contradictions that scar your soul, the mystery that leaves your heart hungry for more than what’s in front of you, name them as sources of revelation about not only your death but your life. Your steps, your paths, and your journey are leading somewhere, and it’s called transformation.

Try your best to trust. Even the attempt is a death. It is also the emergence of life.

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