Forgotten Among the Lilies

My list of books I want to read seems to always grow faster than I can cross books off it. Occasionally, a book will jump in priority when I hear it referenced in multiple circles. Such was the case with Ronald Rolheiser’s book, Forgotten Among the Lilies (see: Amazon link). Rolheiser is a Catholic Priest and writes with a unique a meditative insight into life. It’s not always an easy read, but it feels like a deep dive into the condition of your soul. I even quoted it a few times in a recent sermon (see: Divine Restlessness). This is a good end-of-the-year book, and the first chapter is brilliant.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

We no longer see our longing as a congenital and holy restlessness put in us by God to push us toward the infinite. Instead it becomes a tamed and tame thing, domesticated, anesthetized and distracted. We are restless only in a tired way (which drains us of energy) and not in a divine way (which gives us energy).

Do we still take our longings and emptiness to God in prayer or do we demand that life gives us, here and now, the full symphony?

Only when we enter the martyrdom of obscurity will our ordinary lives be enough.

In our culture we suffer from what might be termed “Friday night syndrome.” Few people can stay home quietly and rest on a Friday night. Why? Is it because we are not tired and ideally could not appreciate a nice quiet time? No! We cannot stay home quietly on a Friday night because inside us moves a restless demon that assures us that everyone in the whole world is doing something exciting on Friday night. Once that voice is heard, then our homes, our families and our commitments begin to look unexciting.

Few things torment us and are as destructive of our peace and happiness as is this problem: we have set ourselves the impossible, frustrating, task of assuring for ourselves something which only God can give us.

All cynicism is despair, pure and simple. All refusal to dream dreams of something beyond is a giving up, a resignation to mediocrity, a self-imposed condemnation to remain partly unborn, in prison. Despair is simply the defeat of our dreams of greatness.

Chastity is, first, not primarily a sexual concept. It has to do with the limits and appropriateness of all experiencing, sexual experience included. To be chaste means to experience things, all things, respectfully and to drink them in only when we are ready for them. We break chastity when we experience anything irreverently or prematurely. This is what violates either another’s or our own growth. It is the lack of chastity in experiencing, irreverence and prematurity, that lobotomizes the soul.

When we are hurting or obsessed, the problem is that we are able to think about only one thing, the object of our hurt or loss. That concentration becomes depressive, oppressively focusing us so much upon one thing that we are unfree emotionally to think about or enjoy other things. Depression is an over-concentration.

It is interesting to note that among the great religions of the world only Christianity, Judaism and Islam do not believe in reincarnation. Why? Because they all believe in the same God, a God who does not demand retribution but can make everything clean with one embrace. There is no need to keep reliving life until one gets it right. We are loved unconditionally and for ever. Salvation, going to heaven, is nothing other than accepting this.

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan. Husband to Michelle and father to Gavin, Madsen, Adelyn, Aiden, and Abel. Author of Redeeming Pleasure and Lead Pastor at Abundant Life Church in Portland.

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