Thursday, April 28, 2011

Living in the in-between space

The Tibetans have a word for in-between-ness. They call it the "bardo" and it's the place of liberation - the only place, when you think about it, that we can exercise choice.

As usual, Fr. Richard Rohr offers great clarity:

Faith is so rare--and religion so common--because no one wants to live between first base and second base. Faith is the in-between space where you're not sure you'll make it to second base. You've let go of one thing and haven't yet latched into another. Most of us choose the security of first base.

-- Richard Rohr

Oh, for my readers across the pond: the above is a baseball metaphor!


  1. This is the first time I've read a quote that gets at the story of my spiritual journey. A long time ago I moved off the base. Since then I've lived in-between. On rare occasions it feels like faith. More often it feels like I'm at sea in a boat without a paddle. But years ago I tried the religion of orthodoxy. It didn't work for me. Then I came to realize just what this quote says to me: I came to the conclusion that the choice of any orthodoxy is more about seeking security than about being open to truth. Given the choice between the illusion of ontological security and admitting that what is ultimately true and real is beyond my grasp, I have no option but to choose the latter. For that is the only truth I know for sure.

  2. That is very moving, Tom. It makes me really glad I found the quote; glad I posted it.

  3. After reading again what I wrote above I realize that it tends to label me an agnostic. And about the nature of ultimate being and truth I suppose that is closer to the truth about me than any religious creed I might repeat. But I do have a rudder of sorts in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, especially his teachings as summed up in Matthew 25:31-40; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 6:37-38; Luke 6:27-31 and Matthew 22:37-40-in as much as 38 is like unto 39. These passages sum up for me an imperative that I find to be good and filled with integrity, hope and redeeming love. And because these teachings of Jesus came from his rootedness in the spiritual journey of Judaism and because the Judeo/Christian is the journey I know best, and only for that reason, I am also somewhat rooted in that story. But I recognize the vast fault lines in that story. I therefore see Judeo/Christianity as the place from whence I have come. But other than those portions of that story which fall within the spirituality, ethic and faith of the passages listed above my spiritual journey is not at one with the milieu of what I understand as Judeo/Christian. Likewise in as much as other spiritual paths affirm the truths in the above passages I find myself somewhat equally at home with them. That is why I identify with the concept of living in the in-between. All of this I do only poorly and with my own great flaws.

  4. And, if we live as Christians, isn't earth the in-between-place? Where we are 'in the world but not of the world'? Something to remember daily, thanks Ellie.

  5. Hi, Andie. I like your take on this. Actually, I'm starting to see that there are many ways of interpreting this Richard Rohr passage.

  6. hi Ellie, we do get baseball here on the telly (I have been known to watch the occasional World Series). Moreover baseball was originally an English game - it's mentioned in Northanger Abbey (of all books). In the UK and also Australia it evolved into a game called softball, mostly played in girls' schools as far as I know (we certainly played it at my school. I was terrible at it). For what these things are worth :)

  7. Tom,
    I appreciate your sharing on Sister Ellie's blog. I would like to add my voice to your idea that, though I am rooted in the Christian story, it has served more as a springboard ( for me anyway) to explore other traditions and find within them a common ground.I am reminded of an old Hidu proverb that states,

    "I Am through all religions, as a string is through a strand of pearls".

    Warmest regards to you in your journey,
    annie c

  8. I think a lot of people might substitute the word "spirituality" where "faith" is here, but perhaps the sentiment is the same either way.

    Hmmm. Is there a difference between "faith" & "spirituality"?

    Oh Ellie. Sometimes I think you have the sanest life out of all of us out here. :) :hug:


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