Cover Page

Table of Contents

Other Books by Richard Rohr

Title Page

Copyright

Introduction

About the Companion Journal

How to Use This Book

Chapter 1: The Two Halves of Life

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 2: The Hero and the Heroine's Journey

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 3: The First Half of Life

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 4: The Tragic Sense of Life

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 5: Stumbling over the Stumbling Stone

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 6: Necessary Suffering

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 7: Home and Homesickness

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 8: Amnesia and the Big Picture

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 9: A Second Simplicity

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 10: A Bright Sadness

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 11: The Shadowlands

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 12: New Problems and New Directions

Experiential Exercises

Chapter 13: Falling Upward

Experiential Exercises

The Author

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Other Books by Richard Rohr

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self

Title Page

Introduction

I can only assume that the continued and engaged response to Falling Upward, a book about the spirituality of the two halves of life, reveals that it has named something real. I now meet people who tell me they have read it three times and keep marking it up in new places. But why?

It is surely not a credit to my writing style or my wonderful opinion. Rather, I think the book reveals something with huge pastoral, practical, and therapeutic implications—for individuals, for education, for spiritual growth, and for understanding the development of groups and institutions through two distinct stages: building our container and finding its contents. Knowing the difference keeps us from beating our head against the wall and forever asking, “Why is my life not working?” It keeps us from trying to pound round pegs in square holes—or calling other people's pegs wrong.

Others much wiser and broader than I will take this material to other levels of spirituality and psychology, but I think the foundational insight of two major tasks to life and growth—and a necessary crossover point—will hold. That insight is strongly validated by Scripture (law versus Spirit), cultural traditions (education and initiation theories), and now validated by our newly found courage to trust our own experience, even though we might still be afraid to do so. We needed to say it forthrightly, to name what we now realize is obvious. We must start by building our life container, but it must and will fall apart (and that is good but also the rub!), and only then do we find the real contents and depths of our own lives.

Knowing about this dynamic also helps us to partly understand the endless conservative-liberal divide in most groups and how both are preserving essential values—though sometimes in the wrong sequence and for too long. You can be a very healthy conservative and also a very unhealthy one, or a very healthy liberal and a very unhealthy one. Both sides need critique and both sides need validation—and at the right time. Seeming “liberalism” in the young and immature is usually an ego and spiritual disaster; seeming “conservatism” in old folks is often nothing but cognitive rigidity and love of their own status quo and privilege.

Just as the great spiritual teachers have consistently taught, things are usually not what they seem; and what looks like one thing is often something else entirely. Wisdom lies in knowing the difference, and wisdom is often revealed only in time (Matthew 11:19), as Jesus says.

So more than anything else, I hope the original book, Falling Upward, and now its journal can be an exercise in spiritual discernment. This is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Paul briefly lists in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and is similar to the winnowing fork that is central to Odysseus's transformation, and that John the Baptist symbolically puts in the hands of Jesus (Matthew 3:12).

Much of religion has remained stuck and immature because it has not developed this gift of winnowingawakeningwisdom