Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 10, 2004
Move past the now into the heart of light
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
There's a loss of heart for children, for simple freshness, for romance, for innocence, for proper aesthetics and even for manners.
While much of this was needed and is in many instances a clear intellectual and moral progress, we've been slow to admit something else. This is also slowly tiring us, gradually wounding the heart and draining away much of its strength and resiliency. To be innocent means to be "unwounded." The loss of our innocence has left us wounded in the heart. A wounded heart seeks to protect itself, to find respite from what wounded it in the first place.
Hence, more and more, we have less heart to put up with the strains and tensions of family, Church, neighbourhood, community and country. Instead we protect ourselves by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people and safe circles. We have too little heart for dealing with the tensions that arise from our differences. Like the woman in the Gospels suffering from internal bleeding, we are finding that constant internal hemorrhaging is making it impossible for us to become pregnant with new life. Like her, we need healing. How?
First, by recognizing and naming this loss of heart. Our marriages, families, homes, churches, communities, friendships and even civic communities are breaking apart because we haven't the heart to deal with their tensions. We need to ask ourselves: What do we need to do to regain some resiliency of heart?
Things looked different in the past. When I was young, society and the Church both suffered from an unhealthy naiveté and an unhealthy rigidity. The great social movements of that past 40 years, along with new attitudes and sweeping reforms inside the churches, have exorcized most of that naiveté and rigidity. A more liberal view of things has taken hold.
We live with the results: endless deconstruction of the old and an uncompromising emphasis on freedom, individual rights, social justice, gender equality, ethnic equality, multiculturalism, wider tolerance, the ending of old privilege and on the shortcomings of being naive. Part of this too, in terms of faith and the Church, has been a strong, relentless, challenge to grow beyond an infantile belief, to face the dark corners of doubt, to not hide behind false securities.
Much of this was good, needed, prophetic even; but I believe as well that it's now time for a different response, at least for a while. Another shift is needed. What's required is not a conservative or fundamentalistic turn, though that clearly seems to be the temptation for many. We can't unlearn what we've learned through these years of deconstruction.
We're not called to turn back the clock, to become arch-conservative. We're called instead, I believe, to become post-liberal, post-critical, post-modern, post-sophisticated, post-hypersensitive and post-politically-correct.
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