Author Richard Rohr views the spiritual life in two stages, the first stage setting the stage for the second. In early chapters he discusses the common theme of stories about heroes and heroines, concluding that once they have slain the dragon (or whatever it is they’ve done), they find a deeper, resurrected life. Then the question becomes what to do with it.
According to Rohr, sin and failure pave the way to redemption. We must learn to heal, to forgive and to move on. I found the chapter titled “Amnesia and the Big Picture” hard to understand, but a later chapter made up for it and was well worth the price of the book. In “The Bright Sadness” Rohr writes: “There is still darkness in the second half of life—in fact maybe even more. But there is now a changed capacity to hold it creatively and with less anxiety.”
Rohr believes that there is always a “bright sadness” to authentic religious art, and he likens that to life itself. He writes of withdrawing our energy from fighting evil and instead looking for things we all share in common. He suggests concentrating on the Beatitudes rather than the Ten Commandments. The “bright sadness” comes from embracing and learning from our sorrows. Our own struggles are opportunities for growth, Rohr writes, and second half of life people are needed to help others see the big picture. In our mature years, people should want to know and emulate us.
I liked this book because it helped me to see my senior years in a positive light. Rohr did not sugarcoat the challenges, but he helped me to see that I can embrace the journey as I learn to live with contradictions. It spoke of who and what I want to be and gave me hope that I can achieve maturity as a person.
Notes, a bibliography and an index complete the book. This would make a great study for a group of seniors who want to get the most out of their remaining years.