A FRIEND recently commented that religion puts people in boxes, and I had to agree. Not only does organised religion, particularly Christianity, herd people into their particular corral, but within their specific congregation individuals end up being in separate, personal boxes in which they have to work out their own understanding of God as best they can. To question becomes fraught with fear, to challenge invites ostracism and being labelled a heretic.
Most people who have been in churches for decades are oblivious to this. Their particular ritualistic worship—whatever brand of faith community they are in—has become so ingrained in them that it blinds them to even the possibility that there are other ways of experiencing God and the wonder of who he is. They crouch inside their little boxes within the bigger box of their denomination in the confines of a very narrow, restrictive comprehension of God.
However, more and more people are breaking out of the bigoted barriers of their little boxes that have stopped them from seeing God in all his awesomeness, majesty and power, and with his unlimited love, joy and peace, infinite grace and mercy.
It can be quite scary being flung from one’s religious restraints into the vast expansiveness of God’s creation with a smorgasbord of options on how to know and experience God spread out before us. When once we were very sure of our faith, convinced it was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, we are left flailing to pick up the pieces and begin the task of rebuilding a much broader and less flawed–though still far from perfect–understanding of who God is, what he means to us and how we can relate this fresh awareness to our daily lives and to those around us.
Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward, addresses life’s tasks that need to be undertaken for us to become spiritually mature and authentic. We devote the first half of life to building our identity; in the second, we need to sort through what we have gathered and work through what has prevented us from becoming truly authentic—a time of “falling down” that ultimately leads to one “falling upward”. The richness of the teachings in Falling Upward are so pertinent for those of us who have emerged from our bigoted blindness into the panoramic splendour of God’s radiant, all-inclusive, glorious light.
It is not easy becoming un-boxed…but it sure beats being alone in the dark. It is as the Apostle Paul wrote: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, King James Version).
 Rohr, Richard. Falling Upward: a spirituality for the two halves of life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.