The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines...
Ladder-climbing Western culture, and the clinging human ego, made the Gospel into a message of spiritual advancement—ascent rather than descent. We hopefully do advance in “wisdom, age, and grace” (Luke 2.40), but not at all in the way we thought. Jesus again got it right! He brilliantly and personally taught the way of the cross and not the way of climbing.
We come to God much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right. God absolutely leveled the human playing field by using our sins and failures to bring us to divine union. This is surely the most counterintuitive message of the Gospels—so counterintuitive that it largely remains hidden in plain sight.
This is hard for us to accept, or even understand. Even within the life of faith we expect to be able to say, "Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better..." We look for concrete progress in holiness, deepening commitment to church responsibilities, significant achievements in evangelism and what used to be called "corporal works of mercy". The Buddhist teacher and writer Chogyam Trungpa famously called this attitude "spiritual materialism", and we Christians are as good at it as any,
The paradox is that if we do follow Jesus on the way of the Cross, we will grow in holiness, and all the rest of it - but only so long as it is our Lord whom we're following for his own sake, and not for what we might receive. (This I think is perhaps what Jesus meant at when he said (John 6.26) that people were looking for him for what they could get.)
I know myself - but only in retrospect - that the times in my life when changes, transformations as Rohr calls them, have taken place have been low times, times when I often haven't been able to see God's hand in events at all, but only darkness and shame and confusion. Perhaps this is what faith is: to hold on to God, to love him best of all, when nothing shows him to us, and the road is black with loss.
Sometimes, unteachable, I have wondered how to hang onto these depths of faith in the good times, like now, when all around seems to be going well, and happiness is a daily fact. It isn't possible. God knows when, and how much, we need these shadow times, these times of hollowness and pain. Even if we were able to administer this medicine ourselves, we would probably destroy ourselves. Like seeds, we can only really grow in darkness - and we can't see in the dark...