But I’m not done with the First Half!
“If change and growth are not programmed into [emphasis in original] your spirituality, if there are not serious warnings about the blinding nature of fear and fanaticism, your religion will always [emphasis in original] end up worshipping the status quo and protecting your present ego position and personal advantage—as if it were God!…All we can conclude is that much of organized religion is itself living inside of first-half-of-life issues, which usually coincides with where most people are in any culture.” Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr, p. 11
Rohr talks about security, success, and containment as being the primary tasks of the first half of life. On many levels, I have failed in these essentials. I am only now coming to terms with how far behind I am. I am not a great housekeeper, but somehow I became the solely responsible home-owner for everything. I never got a career up and running, but somehow I am living the life of a retiree!
I feel as if I have been airlifted out of the first half of life and placed unceremoniously in the middle of the second half—without any resources, guidance, or even acknowledgment that this new territory is real! It is disorienting. I live in a realm of wills, advance directives, funeral preparations, pensions, Social Security, blood work, routine physicals, etc.
So..what the heck was I doing for the first half? I was trying to avoid the mistakes of my brothers and peers. (“Stay out of my car with your joints and pot seeds.” “I think I will use birth control.” “I have to get an education because my husband is 16 years older than I am and Michigan’s economy is changing, and not for the better.”) I didn’t know what I wanted, but I did know that I had no desire to deal with the consequences they were dealing with. I was trying to prevent chaos. I was seeking sanity through every available means, including religion.
To say that my seeking sanity through religion was a failure would be an understatement of ginormous proportions. I would get along famously with church leaders, until I started to question their highly questionable judgment. I refused to honor the status quo because it seldom meant anything to me and never delivered on its promises to me. The status quo had to go. That attitude made me unfit for organized religion on every level. People had made tremendous sacrifices to create a status quo that worked for them and I basically defecated on it. The status quo had never worked for me and I refused to support it financially, emotionally, or socially. It was high school all over again: sacrifice every shred of self-respect and maybe, just maybe, we will accept you and love you. Talk about an offer I could refuse! The emotional manipulation was greatly resented.
But needs do not go away. I discovered that I could even use Zen (!) as an escape. I was trying to avoid the emotional hype of Christianity, only to find myself using Zen in the same emotionally escapist manner I was trying to avoid in church. There is not much difference in result if the intent is the same. I was finding the same relief in meditation that I saw on the faces of Pentecostals with their hypnotic hand-clapping and swaying. The tendency for self-deception is universal, regardless of religion.
So now I am in the second half of life, trying to figure out who I am and what I want. I didn’t finish the first half! And now I have to get help and advice from people that did successfully complete the first half. Who wants to listen to a failure? I am so lost.