God calls all of us to take the demanding and liberating path of our own inner truth (John 8:31-32)—and that means taking responsibility for everything that’s in us: for what pleases us and for what we’re ashamed of, for the rich person inside us and for the poor one too. Francis of Assisi called this forgiving the leper within us and Therese of Lisieux called it “The Little Way.” It is always the way of courage and utter trust, recognizing both light and shadow within us.
If we learn to honour and claim our inner inheritance, we will grant others the same divine donation. If we learn to love the poor one within us, we’ll discover that we have room for compassion for all “outsiders” too, because we now know that we are all the same. Human solidarity now comes naturally.
Those who have enough space within them to embrace every part of their own soul can receive the fully human and fully divine Christ. And the good news is that Christ himself will lead us on this path.
Richard Rohr, adapted from Simplicity, p. 174-175
I love this sense that we are all outsiders, in the end. If we see ourselves truly, we will realise that we “fit” only in what Rohr calls our “inner inheritance”—the way God has “prepared for us to walk in”.
I think part of the reason I find this so exciting is that it resonates deeply with two concepts that fascinated me when I was young, the Tao of the Chinese philosophers Lao Tzu, Lieh Tzu and Chuang Tzu, and Colin Wilson's idea of The Outsider. Yet somehow although they allowed me to see where the deep longing I felt almost continuously might be located, they couldn’t help me actually to find what I might be longing for.
It wasn’t until my own conversion between the ages of 30 and 31 that I began to find what they had been calling out to me through the fog: that all our times are in God’s hand, all our ways carved into the very being of us, and we have only to trust that the God who made us made us this way advisedly, and accept ourselves, as he accepts us in Christ, with open arms. In doing that, our arms are open to all without question, for in the end we are all little, and we sleep, and love, and weep, all alike.
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jesus said this, John 8:31-32 NIV)