The Wisdom Pattern

No spiritual thinker, writer, or theologian has influenced me more in the past fifteen years than Fr. Richard Rohr.  

I had the opportunity to meet him in person some years ago, and when he signed my copy of his book The Universal Christ, he chuckled to see how many Post-It notes were sticking out from its pages.  

"Well, I'm glad you read it thoroughly," he told me.  

Fr. Richard has written and spoken a great deal on the idea of an eternal rhythm within the Universe---something he calls the Wisdom Pattern.  

The pattern goes like this:  Order > Disorder > Re-order.  

This is the pattern of all of Creation, us included.  As we journey through life, we experience almost everything within this pattern.  

We begin with something orderly that makes sense to us, and then disorder inevitably arrives due to circumstances, trauma, new revelations, or dramatic change.  If we are patient and determined, we will find re-order on the other side of the disorder. 

However, after disorder, our worldview, ideas, beliefs, and understanding may completely differ from what we held when we experienced orderliness.  We might not even be the same.  

Nevertheless, experiencing disorder is extremely disorienting.  When everything gets turned upside down, your world falls apart, or your belief systems collapse, it can send you spinning in unhealthy directions.  

Also, disorder is why people numb themselves, stay where they are, and don't move. 

But, as I said a moment ago, if we are patient and determined, we will find re-order on the other side of the disorder we experience.  

I say patient because the urge to give up or run off in the wrong direction is powerful when we are disoriented.  

I also say determined because it takes determination to move beyond the disorienting effects of disorder, to keep going until the new thing on the other side is revealed.  

And the new thing could look like peace on the other side of anxiety and worry, hope on the other side of heartache, joy on the other side of sorrow and loss.  It looks like faith on the other side of despair.  Life on the other side of death. 

This is an eternal rhythm of dying and rising, which we dance to with all of Creation.  

Knowing this, truly knowing it, is perhaps one of life's great accomplishments because with that knowledge comes the kind of peace that can't be mustered up on our own.  It's the peace that the Scripture says "passes understanding." 

When we find this peace, when it comes to us like a song that hums around us with reverence and awe, we no longer fear whatever disorder might come---even if it brings death to our doorstep.  

We don't fear it because we know there is something more on the other side of it, and if we are patient and determined, we will experience the re-ordering of our mind, spirit, lives, and world as we know it.  

May you live abundantly and full of joy in this knowledge.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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