I am using Richard Rohr’s Advent meditations this year. Today he “hit the nail of the head” for me. Mathew 11:15 says, “Let anyone with ears listen!” Rohr points out how much Jesus talks about seeing, hearing, listening and about not being blind. He used to think this was just for “hard-hearted” folks but he’s come to understand that the words are for all of us.
He writes, “Without great love and/or great suffering, human consciousness remains largely at the fight-or-flight, either/or, all-or-nothing level. This dualistic mind, that we can now prove is the lowest level of brain function, will never be able to access, much less deal with, the really big things that are invariably ‘mysterious.”” He lists, love, evil, God, nonviolence, forgiveness and grace as some of those things.
When I first had my injury I mentioned how I had a “startle response.” I was jumpy whenever I rode in a car because my body was afraid we would be hit again by another car. At first, I couldn’t even be a passenger in the front seat since this was where I was in 1996. I would scream at any little car I perceived would hit us. It drove my husband nuts since he was never sure if it was real or not.
In a sense, I had a dualistic mind. I was either in danger or I wasn’t. It took years of struggling with this until I rarely have this type of response now. It still happens some but it’s okay since it is infrequent. I do have an “all or nothing” sort of mindset, though. (see 8/22/12) While I believe I had this mindset prior to my injury, it is worse now because my ability to hold two conflicting things in my mind is difficult. (cognitive flexibility)
However, Rohr writes, ” Jesus is talking today to all of us, and not just to those really bad people out there. We can be very sincere, good willed and even want to be loving, but the big issues will still bring us to the blindness and deafness that Jesus talks about. It is largely great love and great suffering that create spiritual listening and larger seeing.”
I think being a brain injury survivor has allowed me to see and hear things differently. It doesn’t mean I’m “better” than anyone else but I am starting to see and accept all that I have gained. Along with my losses I have received many gifts and for these, I am grateful.