The Rev. Rob Courtney
Fr. Rob is the Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church & School
Each Friday during Lent I'll be using this space to reflect a little more deeply on what Fr. Richard Rohr calls "The Five Hard Truths." Last year I attended a Men's Rites of Passage retreat in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. It was one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life. The rites were based on these five hard truths that all people must confront in order to grow spiritually and emotionally. Though the truths come out of Fr. Rohr's men's work, the truths transcend gender, and are simply a core part of the human experience.
Each of these truths, which we initially experience as negative, have corresponding positive truths that offer real and lasting hope. Much like the story outlined in Lent and Holy Week, however, we have to go through the cross before we get to resurrection. In his book Adam's Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation, Rohr writes, "The five positive messages must be a young man's own inner experience, not something he believes because others told him to; they must be something he knows to be true for himself. The five negative messages must be deliberately taught and ritualized because we all will resist their truth, run from them, and even deny them if we can" (p. 153). That being said, I still think they're worth teaching even though they're hard. I do, however, think he's right--they're better experienced. And, again, as I mentioned above, even thought his comes out of Rohr's men's work the truths transcend gender.
"We all will resist [the five hard truths], run from them, and even deny them if we can."--Richard Rohr
1. Life is hard
Sure, many people's lives are much harder than mine. I recognize that. But, it's certainly been my experience that life is hard.
2. You are not that important
I might feel like I am at some points, but in the grand scheme of things . . .
3. Your life is not about you
Um . . . it's not? No. It's not.
4. You are not in control
Maybe not, but I sure like thinking I am. Even though I can think of many times when life felt like it was out of control.
5. You are going to die.
I preached about this at yesterday's Ash Wednesday services. This is the truth that kicks off the whole Lenten season when we receive the ashes on our foreheads and hear the words, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." We go from enjoying Mardi Gras to facing our deaths. A hard truth, indeed.
"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
There you have it. The five hard truths. Do they make you want to run? Do you disagree with any of them? Come back next Friday and we'll start breaking down each one, and I'll help you see positive messages that come with each truth.