Broken rules

March 5, 2014

I read with interest Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation about “The Importance of Law.”  It talks about the need for firm externally imposed limits at an earlier stage in life in order to be able to move beyond such a dynamic later.

But it also talks in terms of the person later being able to know how to break the rules appropriately, and not inappropriately, later in their life, and I am surprised to hear it discussed in the active voice of breaking.  Maybe we are talking about way later.

Because what I think comes next is when those systems of law no longer are sufficient to one’s situation, when needs are not being met by the system as advertized, when the social compact has been broken, when one’s own contribution, however adequately made, is not producing what is needed or what the system says it will produce.  One’s relationship with the system, I think, does break down, but I don’t think it’s through direct action by the person.

This may be what Henri Nouwen is referring to in his emphasis on brokenness.  I think we get broken as much as break the system, and once we are in that position, we either implode or explode, retreat into what our society calls psychosis, or we expand our direct connection to the spiritual realm — we expand our connection to the divine beyond us and the divine within us.

I think atheists haven’t in their current lives been in this position, I think many people who espouse religiosity through the realm of cognitive ideas haven’t either.  I think people who who have done this before may not accurately remember what they went through to get to their current level of understanding.

Yes, there is brokenness, but it is ours as much as it is the social system’s.  We experience its limitations and we need and are ready for and reach out for what lies beyond it.

That, at least, is my impression of the transition.

I’ve read enough of Richard Rohr that for all I know I got these ideas from him as much as from anything else (including experience and Henri Nouwen), and for all I know he will in coming days say something similar.  But I was surprised by what I read today.


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