In my own life, I have given hundreds of retreats and thousands of sermons. I know that when I talk, people sometimes get new ideas and they sometimes even get inspired. But they don’t often get converted, they aren’t really changed. It takes more than words to do that. What converts people are real-life situations. What changes people are confrontations, looking at something they don’t want to deal with straight in the face, or looking at life from a new vantage point. Observe your point from an honest perspective. Change your viewpoint every now and then, and stand in another pair of shoes looking back at yourself. How else will you ever get free? It is essential for human empathy. It is necessary, or we remain largely narcissistic and trapped in our own ego and culture. This is probably the core meaning of religious pilgrimage, which requires that you leave home.Richard Rohr
From Wild Man to Wise Man
I realized that I must live over again the years which I had lived wrongly…I went over my life…like a man who after travelling a long, featureless road suddenly realizes that, at this point or that, he had noticed almost nothing without knowing it, with the corner of his eye, some extraordinary object, some rare treasure, yet in his sleepwalking had gone on, consciously aware only of the blank road flowing back beneath his feet. These objects…were still patiently waiting at the point where I had first ignored them, and my full gaze could take in things which an absent glance had once passed over unseeingly, so that life I had wasted was returned to me…I did not feel so much that I was rediscovering the world of life as that I was discovering it for the first time.Edwin Muir, An Autobiography
Beyond all these sociological distinctions between true community and false, there is a theological way of expressing the differences which brings us to the heart of the matter. False communities are idolatrous. They take some finite attribute like race, creed, political ideology, or even manners, and elevate it to ultimacy. They seek security by trying to make timeless that which is temporal; by pretending that which is shaky is firm; by worshiping that which should be viewed critically. They confuse their own power with the power of life and death. False communities are ultimately demonic, which is not to say that true communities are divine, for both retain their human character.Parker J. Palmer
A Place Called Community
First, regarding the left hemisphere:
From everything we know about the hemispheres, we would expect that, in the left hemisphere’s world, truth would be conceived as a thing, rather than a process. Truth, this thing, would be conceived of as existing in the realm of subjectivity (in the mind) as a suitable representation of something conceived of as existing in a realm of objectivity (outside the mind). From this point of view the way to approach truth would be to start with a secure set of facts, and then work upwards by rules of logic, to a series of other facts, putting one secured item on top of another, to build the pyramid of (represented) truth.The Matter with Things, 382
Regarding the right:
So how would the right hemisphere conceive truth? Rather than conceiving it as a thing, it would experience it as a process, one that, in this case–not just for now, but in principle–has no ending. More importantly, it would see that truth is a relationship. Instead of seeing a subjective realm and an objective realm which should as near as possible mirror one another, it would see a constant reverberation between two (never completely distinct) elements within our consciousness–thoughts and experiences–whereby they ‘answered‘, or co-responded to, one another; this even better accord, or attunement, would be the evolving truth. It would be intrinsically incomplete, but constantly in the process of completing itself; and uncertain, though constantly approaching nearer to certainty; incapable of being grasped except through embodied being, through a consciousness that is in the fleshed and engaged in the world. We would find out what was true only by testing it on the pulse of experience–whether it corresponded with the totality of our experience, not just with one (cognitive) part of it. Because of this it would be unique and necessarily many-stranded.The Matter with Things, 384
What might be the implications of McGilchrist’s thinking about modern theology, and especially regarding notions of the Trinity?
There is not one whole person-Romans 3: 9-18, Letters to the Beloved
not even one.
No one comprehends my fullness,
no one truly seeks after me.
Every person has left the path of shalom,
pursuing broken things.
They do not live for integration,
When they open their mouths,
they breathe out deception and death.
They speak out curses from a bitter tongue.
They are eager to inflict hurt.
The road they walk is littered
with the victims of their self–centered violence.
They do not put my peace into practice
because they treat my call to love with contempt.
This poem, Love After Love by Derek Walcott, is one of my favorites.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
I will not die an unlived life, I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my life to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise... -Dawna Markova
I was pondering this wonderful prayer often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. May it be the prayer of all of us.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life