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From Fantasy to Fulfillment.

*Note: This reflection is based of Ronald Rolheiser’s book, “Forgotten Among the Lilies: Learning to Love Beyond our Fears.” I reflect on chapter five, the subsection it titled as my blog post is.*

How many of you daydream?  I bet not a single person said no.  Why?  In our dream we can be whoever we want to be, do whatever we want to do; everything we could possibly wish for is true in our dreams.  Why?  We are able to escape the life here that has tears, limits, and failures.

In fantasy we achieve salvation, consummation and vindication.

Many people don’t even admit that they escape to daydreams anymore.  The thing is, a certain amount of daydreaming is actually healthy and natural.  It is a way of relaxing.  For me, I like to imagine all the possibilities for me life, and all the good they have for me.

There is little difference between a tired person inserting a musical cassette tape into a stereo and sitting back to forget life’s problems and another tired soul inserting her favorite daydream into her imagination and sitting back to relax.

Interesting, huh?  Listening to music or getting lost in a daydream, either of them as good as the other in order to relax.  Both of them provide an escape from the intensity of life.

A healthy fantasy life can positively help spawn creativity because our daydreams put us in touch with the goodness and potential that is inside us.

Daydreams are good things.  In them we are never small people, but those who do great things.  We become special people who really live in God’s presence and live up to our life’s potential.  Even with all that, daydreams can also be bad.

If we daydream too much we become unhealthily self-preoccupied. 

Too much fantasy dulls full attentiveness to the present, to others, to prayer and to God.  Too much daydreaming leaves us distracted and dissipated with too much of our perception and thought centered upon our own agendas and our own obsessions.

We can become so preoccupied by what is around us if we stay too much in our daydreams.  I know I have been caught so many times in doing that.  It has become at times, something that has distracted me from God and His will for me.  There needs to be a balance.

To the extent that our daydreams our healthy , we may enjoy them.  However, more and more, as we mature in life and prayer, we must actively work at turning away from fantasy towards prayer.

Towards prayer.  While prayer has always been in my life in some way or another, this is something that really has been in my heart these past two years out of school.  I would always dream of what was to come for my life, but now I am in that future.  Prayer is so vital, asking God what He wants of me and listening to His response.  Here is a little about prayer and contemplation.

Prayer is more than just saying prayers.  Radical prayer is contemplation, and contemplation itself should not be understood simply as good feelings we have when we gaze at something which moves us.

We contemplate every time we see something as it really is, nakedly, face to face.

When we genuinely perceive, when we see, hear, smell, touch or taste anything that is other than ourselves and do no manipulate it, we are contemplating, we are praying.  (This of course does not preclude other methods of praying.)

Contemplation is awareness without manipulation.  Such awareness, as great spiritual writers have always assured us, is prayer.

Amazing, isn’t it?  I wanted to leave you with just this last chunk, but I felt the pre-stuff was important to backing it up.  A lot of people in the world know praying as the saying the rope prayers that are commonly said.  Really, prayer is so much more than that, as we have just read. 

Are you aware of how many times you manipulate the senses and what is around you?  I find that people like to deny that they do anything of that, but most of the time people are not even aware that they are doing it. 

Do we take the time to see (or any other sense/feeling for that matter) something as it really is?  The challenge I am presenting myself with once again is living in that simplicity of seeing things so that it becomes prayer. 

There are many things that my heart contemplates with this section of the book I am reading, but I am unable to express it all to you.  Take to heart especially that last part quoted on prayer and contemplation.  See what is means for you in your life.  With that, I leave you with one more line on your way out.

It is enjoyable to daydream but it is ultimately more enriching to pray.

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Inner Reflection

 

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Polishing the Stone: A look Within Ourselves

The other evening during our spiritual reading, I happened across something quite interesting in the book I have been reading.  The book is titled “Against an Infinite Horizon: The Finger of God in our Everyday Lives.”  It is written by Ronald Rolheiser.  There is a chunk of it that I would really like to share with  you all, so I have typed it out for you to read.

The beginning of this little section within the chapter it is in starts with the talk of polishing stones.  There was someone who would place small stones he found in a barrel-drum, add some water, seal it, and have it on a rotator.  After several weeks, he would open it up.  If it was gone, it was of sand and gravel.  If the stone had value, it was polished and gleaming with all the rough edges off of it.  It was written that this could be related to family and community life.  It says this.

…real relationship, actual interaction within family and community, deflates our fantasies, makes us see reality, punctures our narcissim, and against every protest, denial, and rationalization we can muster, shows us how selfish and immature we often are.  We cannot live very long within any community […] without becoming aware of our faults and narrowness.

From here, Rolheiser goes on to tell this story and finish up the section on the polished stone.

I remember a young nun to whom I once served as a spiritual director.  Before entering the convent, she had lived alone in her own apartment and was quite popular.  She had many friends and was, to her own mind, quite a mature, giving, and unselfish person.  Not long after joining a religious community, where she lived in close quarters with other novices and those directing the novitiate, she began to experience major problems with her relationships.  She was often at odds with her peers and her directors, who, tactfully and otherwise, told her that she was somewhat self-centered and immature.  She was particularly frustrated because often the tensions arose over very petty things.

“It must be the community that’s causing this,” she told me during one of our sessions.  “I was never a petty, selfish person when I lived alone!”  Then, when I asked why she continued to stay in the convent if this was the case, she replied: “Because, in my better moments, I know that if I ran off now and got married probably most of the things that are happening here would begin to happen again!  Some of this stuff would catch up with me again.  When I lived alone it was lonely, but it was easier.  You didn’t have to live your life under a microscope.  But you could easily fool yourself too!”

What was happening to her in that community?  The stone was being polished!  She was being churned in the barreldrum that is called family, community.  The other stones were knocking some rough edges off her and rubbing her free of considerable useless gravel and sand.  It was painful and humiliating for her, but she was learning the most valuable lesson of all, how to share your life in reality as opposed to fantasy.  She was in a school of charity.  She was being purified. 

Family and community aren’t boring; they are terrifying.  They’re too full of searing revelations; there we have no place to hide.  In family life, our selfishness and immaturities are reflected back at us through eyes that are steady and unblinking.  Staying within them is often the hell that is purgatory and so leads to heaven.

When I read this, I had to stop right in my tracks.  How true some of that is to me and many of the aspirants with me in our little community!  While every aspect of this story may not coincide with me, or anyone here, it is something that makes sense to me and others who have also read this.  You never know what a community can pull out of you and the things that it teaches you.

Community is terrifying.  I have learned that indeed it is hard to find a place to hide from the world on your own.  Much of the day you are with others until you retire to your room for the night.  It is a part of this world I believe we all knew was coming.  The reality of life here is what hit us hard; the actuality of living it out is what struck us off guard. 

The last line struck me as interesting and very true.  Staying with a community can be like hell.  There are a lot of things pulled out of you that you never knew existed, good or bad, that can start to change you a bit.  If you take that, it is like penance, time in purgatory.  You are dealing with who you are and how to change what needs to be changed as well as nurturing the parts of you that need to grow.  All this work on yourself to become the best that God intended you to be leads to heaven.  Heaven and eternity with God is what we want.

I would like to know, what do you think of what Rolheiser has to say?  Have you seen any of this in your life?  Please comment with anything you have to say about this reading!  Peace!

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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