Let the Flow Happen

Fr. Richard Rohr

Think of your own experience: how many people do you know, including yourself, who are really in this divine dance with an appropriate and balanced degree of self-love and self-giving? It is the very definition of psychological maturity. Even so, we all make a lot of missteps as we learn the dance.
Insofar as an appropriate degree of self-love is received, held, enjoyed, trusted, and participated in, this is the same degree to which love can be given away to the rest of the world. You can and you must “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 19:19)—for your own wholeness and for theirs. Without this full flow in and out, we frankly have many “constipated” believers.

This “Golden Rule” is also the gold standard for all growth and development. We learned it from the Trinity. This is the never-ending dance: the movement in and out, of receiving and handing on.

If it’s not flowing out of you, it’s probably because you’re not allowing it to flow toward you. Love can flow toward you in every moment: through a flower, in a grain of sand, in a wisp of cloud, in any one person whom you allow to delight you. You might be experiencing this flow of love when you find yourself smiling at things for no apparent reason.

Spiritual joy has nothing to do with anything “going right.” It has everything to do with things going, and going on within you. It’s an inherent, inner aliveness. Joy is almost entirely an inside job. Joy is not first determined by the object enjoyed as much as by the prepared eye of the enjoyer.

When the flow is flowing, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. You don’t have to be a priest on the altar or a preacher in a pulpit, that’s for sure. You can be a homemaker in a grocery store or a construction worker at a work site; it doesn’t matter. It’s all inherently sacred and deeply satisfying. As the nineteenth-century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning put it, “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.” [1]

All is whole and holy in the very seeing, because you are standing inside the One Flow of Love without the negative pushback of doubting. This is all that there really is. Call it Consciousness, call it God, call it Love; this is the Ground of all Being out of which all things—and especially all good things—come (see James 1:17).

The river is already flowing, and you are in it whether you are enjoying it or not.

The Spirit is your implanted placeholder who teaches you how to pray, how to believe, how to hope, and how to love. As Paul so honestly says, “We do not know how to pray” (Romans 8:26).

You just have to let go of whatever it is within you that is saying no to the flow, judging it as impossible. Let go of any shame that is keeping the Indwelling Spirit from guiding you. Even your sins will become good teachers. The Great Flow makes use of everything, absolutely everything. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more” (Romans 5:20). Even your mistakes will be used in your favor, if you allow them to be. That’s how good God is.

Definition of None

Think of a boy you knew in elementary school. Now think of one of his spelling tests. Now think of a random stray pencil line that he accidentally made with his pencil. The value of that pencil mark holds the same value in your life as all your beliefs and all your thoughts combined.


Imagine the greatest gift anyone gave you. Perhaps it was jewelry, or maybe electronics? And maybe the item itself didn’t mean half as much as who gave it to you, and why they gave it to you.

Now imagine this: the gifts of God await you! And maybe the item itself will be spectacular, but it won’t mean half as much as who gave it to you, and why He gave it to you in the first place.

Mmm Bacon

Saying that you are beyond all morality has as much to do with anarchy as velocity has with bacon. None.

It’s like telling someone they have a checkmate in two moves when they are cutting onions. Being beyond morality means embodying the principles that human laws try to describe, going beyond the letter of the law, embracing the Spirit of the law!