Rise Up Rooted Like Trees
from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, The Center for Action and Contemplation
How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.
each stone, blossom, child—
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.
If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left [God].
This is what the things can teach us:
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
When you sit quietly and for extended times in nature, you see that everything changes. If you stay longer, you see that everything dies or erodes. Nothing stays in the same shape or form for long. Plants and animals seem to accept this dying. All of the natural world seems to accept the change of seasons. Nature fights for life but does not resist dying. It learns gravity’s fall, as it were. Only one species resists this natural movement: humans—you and me. The very freedom that can lead us into intimacy with an utterly free God who invites our cooperation and participation also allows us to resist, oppose, or deny Love. We are free to cling to our own egoic resources, to climb instead of to descend. But we must fall if we are ever to fly.
In our consumer culture, religion and spirituality have very often become a matter of addition: earning points with God, attaining enlightenment, producing moral behavior. Yet authentic spirituality is not about getting, attaining, achieving, performing, or succeeding—all of which tend to pander to the ego. It is much more about letting go—letting go of what we don’t need anyway, although we don’t know that ahead of time. – Richard Rohr