a second naivete...

There is a new term I've just come across in the writing of Richard Rohr - second naivete - and I
LOVE it.  It speaks of a radical trust born of falling downward and living through it by the grace of God. Rohr writes:  it is, of course, not naivete at all but wisdom, holiness and freedom. It just looks otherwise to those still early on in the journey of faith.

I think that is true, but perhaps overly generous (if that's possible?) I know some who are willfully ignorant - stubborn even - when it comes to trust, a lived faith that moves beyond the intellect into the heart and the rest and enlightenment such blessings bring. I am not speaking of the ups and downs all of us encounter as we vacillate, crash and burn only to open ourselves to grace again yet one more time. I suspect this is simply the arch of real spirituality.

In her follow-up to Leaving Church, Barbara Brown-Taylor writes: "There is no spiritual treasure to be found apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth. My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them. My life depends on ignoring all touted distinctions between the secular and the sacred, the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul. What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world."

She continues in An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by insisting that spiritual practice is "at least as valuable as reading books.... thinking... or sitting around talking" about the spiritual life.

In a world of too much information about almost everything, bodily practices can provide great relief. To make bread or love, to dig the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger - these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir... Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right and noticing what happens when that practice succeeds and when it fails. Wise people do not have to be certain what they believe before they act. They are fee to act, trusting that the practice itself will teach them what they need to know. If you are not sure what to think about washing feet, for instance, then the best way to find out is to practice washing a pair or two. If you are not sure what to believe about your neighbor's faith, then the best way to find out is to practice eating supper together. Reason can only work with the experience available to it. Wisdom atrophies if it is not walked on a regular basis. 

Some simply don't know about the wisdom born of faith as made real in the birth, life, death,
resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus. There are others in this realm, however, who steadfastly refuse to either practice the wisdom traditions that have proven successful in changing our hearts; or else rigorously and arrogantly challenge an embodied faith as simple-minded and foolish. In one way, they are right: it IS foolish to follow and live in the manner of Jesus. St. Paul was spot-on in calling out those who rely only upon their own wisdom and ability: they oppose living as fools for Christ. 

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart. Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

But at what cost?  Who actually wants to live like Donald Trump when you could be Mary Oliver? Or Pope Francis? Or Carrie Newcomer? Or Frederick Buechner? Or better still: your own sweet and true self?  We have choices to make - and there are consequences to those choices.that can bring to birth joy or anxiety. Addiction or contemplation? Quiet rest or frantic striving and trying too hard? Carrie Newcomer hit the nail on the head with his second naivete poem:

I used to think
That because life is short
I should do more
Be more
Squeeze more
Into each and every day.
I'd walk around with a stick ruler
With increasing numbers
As the measure of fullness.

But lately
I've sensed
A different response
To a lack of time.
Felt in my bones
The singular worth
Of each passing moment.
Perhaps the goal 
Is not to spend this day
Power skiing atop an ocean of multitasking.
Maybe the idea is to swim slower
Surer
Dive deeper
And really look around
There is a difference between
A life of width
And a life of depth.

To have the time - and presence - to listen to another's story. Or heartbreak. Or prayer is not born of striving and control. It is the consequence of returning and rest.

photo credits:  dianne de mott

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