(Rocks at South Head at the entrance to Sydney Harbour)
I was in Sydney last weekend. Sue was at a conference and I had the time free to explore on my own. With me that means taking time to see, to think, and to wonder. If there's a coffee shop here and there, well, so much the better.
On Saturday and Sunday I had the time to wander where ever I felt like going, and I did.
The harbour is breathtaking of course, but my walks took me to places further than mere distance could explain. I had time to ponder stuff and see, in ways I can't when I'm at home and locked into routines.
Some people are rejuvenated and encouraged by the beauty around them. Others nod at it and move on. Some seem oblivious to it. I think I'm in the first group, especially when alone and far from home. Maybe that's why philosophers and prophets have always sought quiet lonely places to do what they do. Well, anyway, it works for me.
With such an uplifting weekend behind me, I read a short passage by Father Richard Rohr this morning. He founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico a number of years ago and publishes online a lot of stuff I find attractive and compelling. This morning's passage helped bring together some of the weekend experiences and give them meaning.
Now for the insight:
I am not in control of my life. I am a part of something much bigger that I don't and can't understand. Realising this and accepting it opens a window to reality that would otherwise remain opaque to me. When I stop trying to control and manipulate my life and the people around me I have the opportunity be who I am meant to be.
Trying to call the shots in my life has been a persistent aim of mine. The older and uglier I grow, the more I realise the futility of that aim. This weekend's insight came clearly and boldly to a person who needed to receive it. Letting go and trusting that I am part of something bigger; that there is a plan and a structure to things that works with or without my understanding or permission is, perhaps surprisingly, liberating.
It seems I am but a cog . . . but a cog that matters.
Two short quotes from Fr. Richard's email might explain it better:
“You and I came along a few years ago; we're going to be gone in a few years. The only honest response to life is a humble one.”
“Authentic religion leads you to a place that you initially know nothing about. Like Habakkuk the prophet, you have to be picked up by your hair and set where you need to be (Daniel 14:36). Once you know what you need to know, there is no other explanation except that there must be another Power at work in this world. It's not believing doctrines; it's having an experience of being changed or moved to a new place, almost in spite of yourself. Sometimes no one is more surprised than you. All you can do is offer thanks.”
And so I offer my thanks . . . humbly.