Richard Rhor's daily meditations 

Richard Rohr, OFM, (born 1943) is an American author, spiritual writer and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. He has been called "one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world."

Meditations@cac.org

Week Twenty-Five Summary

Resilience and Growth: Weekly Summary

June 16 – June 21, 2024

Sunday

In growing psychologically, one moves toward increasing autonomy and independence. In growing spiritually, one increasingly realizes how utterly dependent one is, on God and on the grace of God that comes through other people.

—Gerald May

 

Monday

In the most mature stage of spiritual development, I’m “just me,” warts and all. We are now fully detached from our own self-image and living in God’s image of us—which includes and loves both the good and the bad. We experience true serenity and freedom. This is the peace the world cannot give (see John 14:27) and full resting in God. 

—Richard Rohr 

 

Tuesday

Resilience isn’t really about returning back to the way you were before, but is much more about reclaiming whatever new shape your form has taken. A resilience that doesn’t really ask us to forget, but that carries the memory of whatever harm or whatever fire we’ve been through. 

—Cole Arthur Riley

 

Wednesday

By walking into that pain, experiencing it fully, and moving through it, you metabolize it and put an end to it. In the process, you also grow, create more room in your nervous system for flow and coherence, and build your capacity for further growth.

—Resmaa Menakem

 

Thursday

Psychology and spirituality come together beautifully to show us that our growth is going somewhere. The trajectory is toward union: union with God/Reality, with the self, with others, and with the cosmos.

—Richard Rohr 

 

Friday

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. Only in this way shall we live without the fatigue of bitterness and the drain of resentment.  

—Martin Luther King, Jr. 

 

Week Twenty-Five Practice

Softening through the Constriction

Indigenous author and poet Pixie Lighthorse names the conscious care and attention we must give to our wounds in order for them to heal: 

 

Tensile and strong, we are able to do what the Western world loves to praise; that is, we find ourselves “powering through” difficult times. Running on autopilot or superhero strength is always expected … with no regard for what their productivity costs them in health, emotional and spiritual well-being, and intimacy with their loved ones. 

 

Yes, we humans can power through—and it is a most helpful skill when it is used in the short term to get through the immediate tasks at hand. Over long periods, hyper-strengthening has a tightening effect—cutting off the flow of oxygen to whatever within us is still seeking healing. 

 

The tissue is pale at the site where the wound is held, and my body has experienced problems in places like these. Where there is constriction, there is no air or blood flow. Our parts are cut off from the whole, separated and over-protected, if not strangulated. 

 

Breathe deep and long into these areas, bringing conscious awareness into the constricted focal points, warming them with your breath and even physical touch. Let your breath be deep and prolonged over tight areas; this is akin to the act of stretching muscles that have been engaged in heavy lifting, giving them space and the opportunity to repair. Growth happens on the emotional and spiritual level when you work an area and give equal time to relaxing it with the spaciousness of your care and attention. 

 

    I allow oxygen to infuse my cells with life force, 

    breathing into the constricted places in my body 

    that have grown tight with fear. 

 

 

Week Twenty-Four Summary

Intimacy and Sexual Wholeness

June 9 – June 14, 2024

 

Sunday

We are each a sacred image of the Divine. We are co-creators with God, so we must respect our own embodiment—and the sacred embodiment of the other. 

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

Queerness is a place of my own unlimited becoming, and its innate connection to the Divine, nature, and my fellow humans. 

—Cassidy Hall

 

Tuesday

Sexuality is what draws us beyond our own boundaries into the service, intimacy, and vulnerability of human relationships. Our deepest desires thrust us into these places of tenderness that come with meaningful human connection. 

—Christine Valters Paintner

 

Wednesday

How does this secret of intimacy become unhidden? Only when we stop hiding—from God, from ourselves, and from at least one other person. 

—Richard Rohr

 

Thursday

Passion is that divine energy within human beings, the love of God, that compels them toward life-giving, life-producing, and life-affirming activity and relationships in regard to all of God’s creation. 

—Kelly Brown Douglas

 

Friday

God’s way of loving is the only licensed teacher of human sexuality. God’s passion created ours. Our deep desiring is a relentless returning to that place where all things are one. If we are afraid of our sexuality, we are afraid of God.  

—Richard Rohr

 

 

Week Twenty-Four Practice

Beautiful Possibilities

 

Poet Robert Monson writes of the beauty and possibilities endowed within our human flesh and all of creation:

 

Beautiful Possibilities

Each day emerges from the last

and potentials rise to kiss the sky.

In this place between 

starshine and clay 

we gather.

Flesh.

Beautiful Flesh.

The stuff of stars

and matter,

Today mattering

slowly but patiently

emerging into

beautiful possibilities.

And only time will tell of

and speak to

the way our possibilities

will merge with one another’s.

So.

Hurting we emerge

hopeful we emerge

Knowing that in this place,

our sacred flesh isn’t just tolerated,

but welcomed,

nourished,

sought for.

 

 

 

Week Twenty-Three Summary

The Jesus Prayer

June 2 – June 7, 2024

 

Sunday

Is it any wonder that so many people are excited to learn about the contemplative mind? It really is or can be the change that changes everything. 

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

How can we make prayer not merely something that we do, but something that we are? For that is what the world needs: not persons who say prayers from time to time, but persons who are prayer all the time. 

—Kallistos Ware

 

Tuesday

God is speaking all things into being right now, and if God would cease this speaking, we’d all disappear. So, we’re trying to become so silent that we can hear God speaking us into being.

—James Finley 

 

Wednesday

Lord, that I might see your presence presencing itself and giving itself away as the intimate immediacy of the grace and miracle of our very presence. Help us to understand that the generosity of the Infinite is infinite and that we are the generosity of God. We are the song you sing.

—James Finley 

 

Thursday

The Jesus Prayer—this constant returning to the present awareness of love—had begun to heal me. I will always be grateful for being able to repeat this prayer until I could feel my soul being knit together again.

—Carmen Acevedo Butcher

 

Friday

At the very heart of this prayer is the heart of Jesus because God is love, and when love touches suffering, the suffering turns love into mercy. Jesus is like a field of boundless mercy.

—James Finley

Week Twenty-Three Practice

Putting Aside Our Thoughts

 

In The Way of a Pilgrim, a wise Russian Orthodox monk responds to the pilgrim’s deep desire to “pray without ceasing” with these instructions from St. Symeon the New Theologian: 

 

Sit down alone and in silence. Lower your head, shut your eyes, breathe out gently and imagine yourself looking into your own heart. Carry your mind, that is, your thoughts, from your head to your heart. As you breathe out, say “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Say it moving your lips gently, or simply say it in your mind. Try to put all other thoughts aside. Be calm, be patient, and repeat the process very frequently. [1] 

 

CAC teacher James Finley offers recommendations for how to pray the Jesus Prayer while “putting all other thoughts aside”:

 

St. Symeon tells the practitioner to “try to put all other thoughts aside.” This is important because when we sit and pray in this way, it isn’t as if all other thoughts politely step back so we can do this. They don’t. What happens is that our thoughts are circling around the edges, and they keep making inroads into our practice. We’re sitting there praying, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” and we think, “Oh geez, I forgot to call Aunt Mildred!” We are praying, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” and the thought pops in, “I wonder what’s for lunch?!” We do our best. 

 

Every time the slippage into thoughts other than the Jesus Prayer occurs, it’s a graced opportunity to circle back around to God being in love with us in our inability to do this. The stillness of this prayer is not a stillness that we perfect in our ability to sit still. The stillness is an inner stillness in which God is unexplainably transforming us into the love of God in our nothingness without God. We’re stilled by it, and there’s a kind of quiet amazement, in awe of the grace that’s unfolding within us in the midst of all the unresolved things in our heart. [2]

Week Twenty-One Summary

Life in the Spirit

May 19 – May 24, 2024

 Sunday

We all are temples of the Holy Spirit, equally, objectively, and forever! The only difference is the degree that we know it, draw upon it, and consciously believe it.

—Richard Rohr

Monday

The gift of the Spirit is God’s own power to love unconditionally—and to transform the world by that power. This gift of knowing the Spirit, of being able to love as God does, is the same gift we need today.

—Richard Rohr

Tuesday

When Jesus is understood in relationship with Spirit as presence, wisdom, and power, we can experience Jesus as a dynamic figure, one related to God’s mysterious activity and one who dwells with us, always present.

—Diana Butler Bass

Wednesday

We must be guided by the Spirit in all that we do. We work with the movement of the Spirit as wind, light, and breath to change us and empower us to be agents of change.

—Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Thursday

At Pentecost, each body and ethnicity is affirmed as sacred and of worth, a human being loved by God. No human voice or body is denied the presence and fire of God.

—Luke Powery

 

Friday

Without the Spirit, Bible study does not lead to divine intimacy and union; rather, it can lead to self-sufficiency and confirmation about why we’re right. Instead of leading us to God, it becomes a way for us to protect ourselves and to judge and diminish other people.

—Richard Rohr

Week Twenty-One Practice

Lectio with the Wind

    God’s Soul is the wind rustling plants and leaves, 

    the dew dancing on the grass, 

    the rainy breezes making everything to grow. 

    Just like this, the kindness of a person flows, touching 

    those dragging burdens of longing. 

    We should be a breeze helping the homeless, 

    dew comforting those who are depressed,

    the cool, misty air refreshing the exhausted, 

    and with God’s teaching we have got to feed the hungry:

 

    This is how we share God’s soul. [1] 

Christine Valters Paintner guides readers through an experience with wind and how the Spirit might be speaking through it. This practice is best experienced outdoors or near an open window.

Sit or lie down comfortably, shifting your body so you feel relaxed and open. Take as much time as you need to turn inward and settle into stillness. It is often helpful to notice your breathing: with the in-breath, breathe in an awareness of the presence of the Spirit; with the out-breath, breathe out all that distracts you from this time of prayer. 

 

Become aware of the way wind is present in the world around you—through a breeze blowing, through birds flying, butterflies fluttering, seeds being scattered by the wind, your own breath. In this initial encounter with the element of air, listen for one of its manifestations. Notice if the birds, the butterflies, the breeze, the seeds, your breath, or some other form invites you or stirs you. Listen for the way God might be calling you to deeper attention to wind this day. Listen until you have a sense of which manifestation of air is inviting you, and then spend some time savoring it….

 

Allow the Spirit to expand your capacity for listening and to open you to a fuller experience of the element at work in the world.  

 

Week Twenty Summary

Loving a Suffering Planet

May 12 - May 17, 2024

 

Sunday

When you dance with doom, doom changes you. But the dance can also change you for the better, leaving you more humble and honest, more thoughtful and creative, more compassionate and courageous... wiser, kinder, deeper, stronger... more connected, more resilient, more free, more human, more alive. 

—Brian D. McLaren

 

Monday

To hold both knowing and unknowing in a delicate, dynamic, and highly creative tension … that is one of the primary skills we will need if we want to live with courage and wisdom in an unstable climate. 

—Brian D. McLaren

 

Tuesday

Love may or may not provide a way through to a solution to our predicament, but it will provide a way forward in our predicament, one step into the unknown at a time. Even if we lose hope for a good outcome, we need not lose hope of being good people. 

—Brian D. McLaren

 

Wednesday

The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us? 

—Dorothy Day

 

Thursday

Contemplation is no fantasy, make-believe, or daydream, but the flowering of patience and steady perseverance. Our hope is that contemplation really can change us and the society we live in by guiding our actions for compassion and justice in the world.

—Richard Rohr

 

Friday

In my dream, our life-giving connection to each other and to the living Earth would be fundamental, central, and sacred … and everything else, from economies to governments to schools to religions … would be renegotiated to flow from that fundamental connection.

—Brian D. McLaren

 

Week Twenty Practice

Synergy of Collective Action

 

Joanna Macy and Molly Brown describe how working together helps us discover the resources we need: 

 

When we make common cause on behalf of the Earth community, we open not only to the needs of others, but also to their abilities and gifts…. None of us alone possesses all the courage and intelligence, strength and endurance, required for the Great Turning…. The resources we need are present within the web of life that interconnects us. 

 

This is the nature of synergy, the first property of living systems. As parts self-organize into a larger whole, capacities emerge that could never have been predicted…. We can feel sustained—and are sustained—by currents of power arising from our solidarity. 

 

Members of The Work That Reconnects collaborated to offer a series of guidelines for reflection on how we can work together: 

 

Attune to a common intention. Intention is not a goal or plan you can formulate with precision. It is an open-ended aim: may we meet common needs and collaborate in new ways….

 

Know that only the whole can repair itself. You cannot fix the world, but you can take part in its self-healing. Healing wounded relationships within you and between you and others is integral to the healing of our world….

 

Open to flows of information from the larger system. Do not resist painful information about the condition of your world, but understand that the pain you feel for the world springs from interconnectivity, and your willingness to experience it unblocks feedback that is important to the well-being of the whole….

 

Believe no one who claims to have the final answer. Such claims are a sign of ignorance and limited self-interest….

 

You do not need to see the results of your work. Your actions have unanticipated and far-reaching effects that are not likely to be visible to you in your lifetime. 

 

Putting forth great effort, let there also be serenity in all your doing; for you are held within the web of life, within flows of energy and intelligence far exceeding your own. 

 

 

Week Nineteen Summary

Homecoming

May 5 – May 10, 2024

 

 Sunday

The archetypal idea of ‘‘home’’ points in two directions at once. Somehow, the end is in the beginning, and the beginning points toward the end. The One Great Mystery is revealed at the beginning and forever beckons us forward toward its full realization. 

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

In the metaphor of life as a journey, I think it’s finally about coming back home to where we started. As I approach death, I think the best way to describe what’s coming next is not “I’m dying,” but “I’m finally going home.” 

—Richard Rohr 

 

Tuesday

Twice per year, we pause the Daily Meditations to ask for your support. If you have been impacted by the CAC’s programs (including these Daily Meditations) and are financially able, please consider donating. We appreciate every gift, as we are committed to keeping our work and these Meditations accessible to all.

 

Wednesday

Spiritual homesickness has become an almost daily dulling grief. It’s not depression or exhaustion. It’s an uncomfortable knowing that I’m coming to the end of one thing and the beginning of the next. I’m leaving and arriving. There’s fear, but there’s also joyful anticipation. 

—Brené Brown

 

Thursday

Experiences of homecoming and depth become the pledge, guarantee, hint, and promise of an eternal something. Once we touch upon the Real, there is an inner insistence that the Real, if it is the Real, has to be forever. 

—Richard Rohr

 

Friday

At home, there’s no need to guess whether we’re in or out, welcomed or not. Home always prepares a place with us in mind. How are you preparing a home of unconditional acceptance for yourself?

—Felicia Murrell 

 

 

Week Nineteen Practice

Finding Home in Ourselves

Author Kaitlin Curtice writes about the sacred legacy of home:

 

I believe some of the most powerful places on earth are the rocking chairs on front porches, the benches nestled around dinner tables, the stones set up around firepits, and the rug at the base of a child’s bed. They are the places where we tell stories, where we examine what it means to be human and decide how much kindness we will show ourselves and one another.

 

Those are the places where we learn who God is and who God isn’t, where we are taught what kind of lives to live, where we learn about how the children and the elders are connected and find the Sacred in their everyday experiences because they are leaning in and listening with their whole beings.

 

May we always return to the places where the stories begin, to challenge them, to accept and honor them, and to whisper to ourselves and one another that we are always, always arriving.

 

    Don’t forget,

    my love,

    to live.

    Don’t forget

    to bury

    your toes in sand

    and leave the car keys

    and laugh at oddities.

    Don’t forget to marvel

    and feel despair,

    to sense danger

    and run from it.

    Don’t forget

    to take chances,

    to climb mountains

    that no one believed

    you could climb.

    Don’t forget

    to love yourself,

    all of you,

    from every season

    and every place,

    because you never know

    when they will

    come knocking for

    a cup of coffee

    and an overdue hug.

    Don’t forget

    that you are alive

    right now

    until you won’t be,

    and even then,

    don’t forget

    how beautiful

    it was to

    call yourself Home.

 

Week Eighteen Summary

The Path to Simplicity

April 28 – May 3, 2024

 

Sunday

Jesus was entirely single-hearted. His life was all about doing the will of the One who sent him, the One he loved above all. To Jesus, it was that simple. 

—Richard Rohr 

 

Monday

Only through simplicity can we find deep contentment instead of perpetually striving and living unsatisfied. 

—Richard Rohr 

 

Tuesday

When adopted with a whole heart and for a lifetime, simplicity leads to an often striking tranquility. 

—Paula Huston

 

Wednesday

When we agree to live simply, we put ourselves outside of others’ ability to buy us off, reward us falsely, or control us by money, status, salary, punishment, and loss or gain. 

—Richard Rohr

 

Thursday

We grow in generosity as we embrace simplicity. We are able to hold all things lightly and, if need be, let them go—our possessions, our money, our pretensions, even our anger, our prejudices, and our fears. 

—Margaret Guenther 

 

Friday

Going to the deepest level of communication, / Where back and forth has never stopped. / Where I am not the initiator but the transmission wire itself. 

—Richard Rohr

 

Week Eighteen Practice

Knowing What is Enough

 

Prompted by the life and writings of Thomas Merton, Sophfronia Scott asks: 

 

“What else might we see more clearly if we could hold our stuff more loosely?” 

 

How do we bring ourselves to do that? We can pray. Merton’s own written prayers included this one: “Stanch in me the rank wound of covetousness and the hungers that exhaust my nature with their bleeding.” [1] But we have to understand what the prayer is truly for. It’s not about beating yourself up for wanting nice things. It’s not about not buying that new car if your family needs it. This is about a remaking of our consciousness—to move from one way of thinking and being to an entirely different way….

 

Try to catch yourself wanting something. Ask if there’s some other hunger or some poverty of the spirit involved—something deeper that the want cannot fulfill. If you’re responding to a commercial and thinking the thing you own is somehow lacking, stop yourself and think about what you do have and in how many ways it is enough…. 

 

As Merton writes, we have to exercise this feeling of “enough.” But we also have to recognize a certain tension inherent in this sensibility—this isn’t about being stingy or coming always from a place of grasping and lack. He observes,

 

    Knowing when you do not need any more. Acting just enough. Saying enough. Stopping when there is enough. Some may be wasted, nature is prodigal. Harmony is not bought with parsimoniousness. Yet stopping is “going on.”… [2]

 

For me, “going on” looks like holding something in love but being willing to let it go—not because I have to get rid of it in a flurry of decluttering but because it has to leave my life when a turn of events warrants it. And knowing that’s OK.

 

Week Seventeen Summary

Listening to Creation

April 21 – April 26, 2024

 

Sunday

Daily cosmic events in the sky and on the earth are the Reality above our heads and beneath our feet every minute of our lives: a continuous sacrament, signs of God’s universal presence in all things.

—Richard Rohr 

 

Monday

When we visit and revisit the wild places that are special to us, experiences of transcendence are waiting for us there.

—Tony Jones 

 

Tuesday

The desert is the homeland of my heart. My spiritual path is cultivating a heart as spacious as the desert: wide open to every direction of the compass, wide open to every creature that walks, flies, or crawls through it, wide open to every change in the weather: darkness and light, sun and rain, aridity and dew, heat, cold, and wind.

—Tessa Bielecki

 

Wednesday

My temple, my mosque, my church of the woods is the holy place to which I return and return. It is a woods that preaches to me, fills me with wordless wisdoms. It is the place where I behold the awe-inspiring mystery of how I hope heaven will someday be.

—Barbara Mahany

 

Thursday

In our Native way, we are more or less listening, not just to ourselves or what we would say the Spirit puts in our hearts, but to what’s going on around us. 

—Randy Woodley

 

Friday

All I’m saying is the whole world comes to life: every kind of cactus, every kind of tree or dead branch, the sunrise, the sunset, the different kinds of birds. I find myself in the middle of a universe of belonging.  

—Richard Rohr  

 

Week Seventeen Practice

Step Outside

 

Spiritual writer Shannon K. Evans asks how the Divine might be communicating through the natural world:

 

What would it look like for you and me to open ourselves to hearing the earth ask us to reclaim something? Could the trees really have a story to tell us about the work of the Holy One on this planet? Could mountains draw us deeper into divine presence? Could the animal life scampering around us breathe renewal into our souls if we stop to watch? 

 

Most of us have probably had a revelatory moment in nature once or twice in our lives. Maybe we assume such things are rare flukes, an occasional happenstance to treasure but not to expect. But what if we can expect them? What if the lines between the material and the spiritual were never meant to be inflexible? If I told you that were you to step outside your door right now there would be a message from God for you, would you go?...

 

The earth is alive with Spirit, and there is something for you every single day out that door. Maybe not lightning from heaven, but a movement of Spirit that speaks in that still, small voice inside you. The earth is inviting you to discover incarnation. 

 

Evans suggests:

 

Carve out time to spend in nature, free of agenda. It might be your own backyard for half an hour or it might be a weekend camping trip at a national park.… Below are a few starting points in case you need some handrails….

 

What is one element of nature that I feel drawn to today?  An animal, tree, body of water, wind? Perhaps that drawing I feel is because it has something to say to me. 

 

​How might God be answering a quandary in my life through this engagement with nature?

 

What do I feel in my body? 

 

Practice active listening. Expect to be shown new ideas, thoughts, or realizations. 

 

Week Sixteen Summary

Art and Contemplation

April 14 – April 19, 2024

 

Sunday

The Divine takes the lead in changing places. Maybe artists have easier access to this Mystery than many theologians. 

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

Too often, art is considered decorative, and it is significantly more than that. Engaging with art means we have to slow down to allow a new experience to enter which perhaps cannot be accessed in another way. 

—Lourdes Bernard

 

Tuesday

Art also carves pathways toward our inner isles of spirituality. When we decide to live in our heads only, we become isolated from the God who is closer than our next breath. The restoration of wonder is the beginning of the inward journey toward God. 

—Barbara A. Holmes

 

Wednesday

Inspiration is in the air and settles on people without regard for their skin color, their social background, or their educational level. How many illiterate artists have emerged in [Brazil], in marginal communities, and were never noticed? Boasting is not the Spirit’s way. 

—Leonardo Boff

 

Thursday

The thing is to allow ourselves to become a vessel for a work of art to come through and allow that work to guide our hands. Once we do, we are assenting to a sacred adventure. We are saying yes to the transcendent and embodied presence of the holy. 

—Mirabai Starr

 

Friday

Great art and great myth try to evoke an epiphany in us. They want to give us an inherent and original sense of the holy. They make us want to kneel and kiss the ground.

—Richard Rohr 

 

Week Sixteen Practice

Dancing as Spiritual Practice

 

In the latest issue of Oneing, CAC staff member and dancer Jenna Keiper writes of the healing wisdom of embodied movement:

 

My ancestors, the wild siblings of old oak forests and the ruddy wanderers of windy peaks, knew communal rhythmic movement. All our ancestral Indigenous communities—as far as we can possibly know—have danced in community rituals to cope with the terror and awe of human life. [1] Anthropologists the world over have found the practice of communal dance to be fascinating in its predictability. It’s so very … human. Humans have, all along, had the answers today’s scientists “discover” written in our communal rhythms. Perhaps it would be wise to listen. 

 

Remember, electrons whisper as the music slows, remember. Together, our Bodies calm and soften. Many Bodies lead their Souls into positions on the floor. Curling and rocking, our breathing slows, together. Remember…. 

 

God in the earth. God in the trees. God in myself. God, embodied. She speaks through every Body, and so the invitation is extended to every Body: Gray hair, unlined faces, stiff joints, supple muscles. Tall and short and bigger-bodied. Slow, quick, pregnant, dying. Alone in your room or on the floor in community. If you have a Body that moves in any way, then movement is your birthright. And if your Body can no longer move, then we will find a way to move in energy with you. Welcome, fellow travellers. Where words fade, the Body speaks. 

Week Fifteen Summary

Tending the Fire Within

April 7 - April 12, 2024

 

Sunday

From time to time the divine grants itself with this kind of fire, a quiet luminosity that has great depth and intimacy to it.

—James Finley

 

Monday

We have to create a contemplative culture in our heart. We must vow to ourselves: I will not play the cynic. I will not break faith with my awakened heart.

—James Finley

 

Tuesday

After a week of the body toiling away in inane work and the spirit being assaulted with insult and loss, Sunday was set aside to recultivate the soul’s appreciation for beauty, truth, love, and eternity. 

—Renita J. Weems

 

Wednesday

We’ve come to understand the importance of practice in sports, in most therapies, in any successful business, and in creative endeavours, but for some reason most of us do not see the need for it in the world of spirituality. Yet it’s probably more important there than in any other area.

—Richard Rohr

 

Thursday

Whenever we seek to understand how we can best live our lives with meaning and purpose, through prayer, meditation, or other practice of spiritual discernment, we’re engaging with our spirituality as a radical resilience skill. 

—Alice Updike Scannell

 

Friday

True encounter with Christ liberates something in us, a power we did not know we had, a hope, a capacity for life, a resilience, encounter an ability to bounce back when we thought we were completely defeated, a capacity to grow and change, a power of creative transformation. 

—Thomas Merton

Week Fifteen Practice

Experiencing Love

 

Author Felicia Murrell invites us to practice knowing and experiencing God’s love:

God is in our midst, a God who exults over us with joy, who quiets us in love, who rejoices over us with shouts of joy and gathers those who grieve (see Zephaniah 3:17–18). 

But how do we get to the place where this is the God we see, the God we encounter and know, the God who frames our imaginings when we think of God? 

Stillness, perhaps. Contemplative prayer, maybe. 

For me, Divine Love is unveiled through communion, connection, and acts of living that create openhearted wonder. 

 

Consistent engagement with spiritual practices often invites us into such spaciousness, creating access points for us to become more consciously aware of Divine Love’s kenotic expression in us and through us. 

 

To that end, all spiritual practices have this purpose—to allow us to touch the depths of our inner selves and to live a generous life of participation with Divine Love in absolute openheartedness; to move from what we know in our heads about God to living and moving and having our being in God; to be present in this life, to the world around us, and to Divine Love. 

 

What is true about God? God is Love (1 John 4:16). 

 

The experience of Love loving us allows us to feel and then to see. As Love invades our numbed-out parts, awakening us from cloudy misperception to Truth, we are invited to heal and to believe what Love believes about us, to trust in the benevolence and kind intentions of Love. Trust flourishes in the soil of Love. And there, our God image transforms. 

 

We don’t just decide to see God as loving; Love is who God is. To encounter Divine Love is to encounter our deepest self. 

 

Week Fourteen Summary

A Resurrection Faith

March 31 – April 6, 2024

Sunday

Easter is the feast of hope. This is the feast that says God will have the last word and that God’s final judgment is resurrection. God will turn all that we maim and destroy and hurt and punish into life and beauty. 

—Richard Rohr

Monday

The pattern of transformation, the pattern that connects, the life that Reality offers us is not death avoided, but always death transformed. In other words, the only trustworthy pattern of spiritual transformation is death and resurrection. 

—Richard Rohr

Tuesday 

I worry [that] if Christians lose our belief in the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, we will also lose the ferocity of our hope, the holy restlessness that leads us to action, the commitment to justice that fuels our prophetic lament, solidarity, resilience, and courage.

—Debie Thomas

Wednesday

The resurrection starts on earth with Jesus dead and buried, and ends up in God with Jesus the Living One transformed by the power of the Spirit. Alive in God, his presence is no longer bound by earth’s limits but partakes of the omnipresence of God’s own love.

—Elizabeth A. Johnson

Thursday

Sunrise in the story of Easter is not just a time of day; it is a state of the heart. Sunrise is the space where nighttime fears move aside for hope, where we feel peace about our mortality in the scope of the universal truth that love abides.

—Becca Stevens

Friday

The resurrection is not Jesus’ private miracle; it’s the new shape of reality. It’s the new shape of the world. It’s filled with grace. It’s filled with possibility. It’s filled with newness. 

—Richard Rohr

Week Fourteen Practice

Celebrating the Risen Christ

 Ilia Delio invites us to find creative ways to “go to church” and celebrate new life and resurrection: 

Where is this risen Christ? Everywhere and all around us—in you, your neighbor, the dogwood tree outside, the budding grape vine, the ants popping up through the cracks. The whole world is filled with God, who is shining through even the darkest places of our lives. To “go to church” is to awaken to this divine presence in our midst and respond in love with a yes: Your life, O God, is my life and the life of the planet….

We have an invitation to go to church in a new way, by praying before the new leaves budding through dormant trees or the wobbly flowers by the side of the road pushing through the solid earth….  [Like Francis of Assisi,] we too can sing with the air we breathe, the sun that shines upon us, the rain that pours down to water the earth. And we can cry with those who are mourning, with the forgotten, with those who are suffering from disease or illness, with the weak, with the imprisoned. We can mourn in the solidarity of compassion but we must live in the hope of new life. For we are Easter people, and we are called to celebrate the whole earth as the body of Christ. Every act done in love gives glory to God: a pause of thanksgiving, a laugh, a gaze at the sun, or just raising a toast to your friends at your virtual gathering. The good news? “He is not here!” Christ is everywhere, and love will make us whole. 

Week Thirteen Summary

The Scapegoating Pattern

March 24 – March 29, 2024

Sunday

Human nature, when seeking power, wants either to play the victim or to create victims of others. Once we start feeling sorry for ourselves, we will soon find someone else to blame, accuse, or attack—and with impunity! 

—Richard Rohr 

Monday

If Jesus’s life reversed the fate of victims he had met, then his death reverses the fate of future victims. He becomes the scapegoat to end all scapegoats—and exposes the truth that could end human blame and violence once and for all. 

—Jennifer Garcia Bashaw

Tuesday

The central message of Jesus on love of enemies, forgiveness, and care for those at the bottom was supposed to make scapegoating virtually impossible and unthinkable.

—Richard Rohr

Wednesday

Because God was present with Jesus on the cross and thereby refused to let Satan and death have the last word about his meaning, God was also present at every lynching in the United States…. The lynching tree is the cross in America. —James Cone

Thursday

Jesus came to reveal and resolve the central and essential problem—humanity’s tendency toward fear and hate. Love is the totally enlightened, entirely nonsensical way out of this pattern. Love has to be worked toward, received, and enjoyed.

—Richard Rohr

Friday

God is not revealed in killing and conquest … in violence and hate. God is revealed in this crucified man—giving of himself to the very last breath, giving and forgiving. 

—Brian McLaren

Week Thirteen Practice

Lingering in the Tension

Author Kat Armas reflects on the spiritual practice of lingering in the tension between winter and spring, the cross and resurrection:

You know those last few weeks before spring, when winter is trying desperately to hold on, her bony fingers cold and frail, losing their grip to the warmth of the sun? The trees towering above your head might still be bare, but when you look down, buds of purple are sprinkled across the ground, bursting forth from earth’s womb…. 

If we pay close attention, we might notice the earth constantly beckoning us to receive this gift. On bended knees with cool breath and a warm touch, the natural world asks us to stay in this moment. Right here. A little longer. 

Do you feel it?...

The life and death of Jesus offers an invitation to sit in a sacred tension, but many are not comfortable doing this. We are a people hell-bent on fix-its, uncomfortable with struggle or with sadness. Perhaps this is why, for many of us, Holy Saturday has long been ignored. This is the day between the death of Christ on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. In the immigrant Catholic church I attended with abuela [grandma] growing up, this holy day of waiting was as important as Easter Sunday because it mirrored our reality—the constant push and pull between sorrow and joy, death and resurrection. On this day, we lit velas (candles) and sat in front of the altar for what felt like years. We knew joy would come, but there was no rush. The holy tension was a space in which we felt most alive. I didn’t know it back then, but la Espíritu Santa [Holy Spirit] was forming something sacred in me.

Armas invites us to consider: 

What moments of sacred tension stand out in your life? What did they speak to you about your humanity? 

 

Week Twelve Summary

Everyday Mysticism: Weekly Summary

March 17 – March 23, 2024

 

Sunday

For me, “mysticism” simply means experiential knowledge of spiritual things, as opposed to book knowledge, secondhand knowledge, or even church knowledge.

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

I’m describing mysticism as a natural part of everyday life … just a deep understanding of the sacred and a willingness to allow the gifts to lead.

—Barbara A. Holmes

 

Tuesday

Today, we are not looking for colossal mysteries like the parting of the seas. We just want to tap into, or at least recognize, everyday mysticism.

—Barbara A. Holmes

 

Wednesday

Everyday mystics are people who commune with the presence of God, receive guidance, … and commit themselves to living for God rather than solely for themselves. Their vision for life is larger and more expansive, knowing that they are alive for a reason, a purpose that will benefit human spirits they may never meet.

—Lerita Coleman Brown

 

Thursday

I can set a little altar, in the world or in my heart. I can stop what I am doing long enough to see where I am, who I am there with, and how awesome the place is. I can flag one more gate to heaven.

—Barbara Brown Taylor

 

Friday

The mystical heart knows there is a fellow Fisherman nearby who is always available for good advice. He stands and beckons from the shores, at the edges of every ordinary life, every unreligious moment, and every “secular” occupation.—Richard Rohr

Week Twelve Practice

Letting Things Be Enough

 

Father Richard describes how “gazing” brings him in touch with God in all things:

 

As some of you know, I’ve transitioned to a form of prayer that I just call “gazing”—gazing without judgment, without analysis, without critique. Yesterday afternoon, a rather mild winter day in Albuquerque, I took my dog Opie out for a little walk. There’s a bench at the other end of the parking lot, and I just sat down there. Opie jumped up next to me, and we just gazed there together from about 3:00 p.m. to almost 4:30 p.m.

 

I believe gazing is a form of prayer that lets things having no right to draw forth awe leave us awestruck. I looked at the cracked asphalt. There it is. Why is it there? I don’t know why, but its mere being made me love it, made me appreciate it, made me thank it. I did the same with three dumpsters in the lot. Really! They were ugly and covered with graffiti. Fortunately, the graffiti right on the front says, “I love you!” Facing toward my house, a little graffiti saying, “I love you!” I even looked at the raggedy fence line, torn and repaired. I looked at it until it was at least a little bit beautiful. That’s what kept happening for the whole hour and a half.

 

It was just beautiful because I let it be beautiful, or God let it be beautiful. I wasn’t looking for answers, I was just a ruminating mind, gazing, and the more I gazed without judgment, without analysis, without critique, the more beautiful everything became.

 

We didn’t have one of our deep, blue New Mexico skies. It was pale blue but pretty, and it was enough. It was all more than enough. The nakedness of life in its nakedness becomes enough, and even brings forth a kind of praise.

 

Week Eleven Summary

Encountering Reality: Weekly Summary

March 10 – March 15, 2024

 

Sunday

When we live inside the Really Real, we live in a “threshold space” between this world and the next. We learn how to live between heaven and earth, one foot in both, holding them precious together.

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

People with a distorted image of self, world, or God will be largely incapable of experiencing what is Really Real in the world. They’ll see instead what they need reality to be. That’s the opposite of true contemplatives, who have an ability to see what is, whether that reality causes weeping or rejoicing.

—Richard Rohr

 

Tuesday

If we are to leave a beautiful world for you and your grandchildren, we have to take seriously the fact that creation does not belong to us; we are part of creation. We cannot do what we like with earth, water, and other human beings. God expects us to keep the earth in good condition.

—Mercy Oduyoye

 

Wednesday

For centuries, people of color have been invisibly bleeding on the floor of systemic oppression, gasping for breath, dying from the thirst of repression, and starving from the lack of recognition and dignity. They have been the “least of these” of whom Jesus spoke (Matthew 25:40). They challenge us all to be aware of their dignity. They demand that we face what we have become.

—Patrick Saint-Jean

 

Thursday

We honor our stories, our pain, and the actual flesh-and-blood realities we live with. There is no bypassing reality, and there is no bypassing the bodies that have carried us in and through this reality. This is where we must begin.

—Aundi Kolber

 

Friday

Living and accepting our reality will not feel very spiritual. It will feel like we are on the edges rather than dealing with the essence. But the edges of our lives—fully experienced suffered, and enjoyed—lead us back to the center and the essence, which is Love.

—Richard Rohr

 

Week Eleven Practice

Reality: The Great Teacher

Father Richard offers a prayer to welcome reality, so we can experience the Reign of God, what he calls the Really Real.

 

Great religion seeks utter awareness and full consciousness, so that we can, in fact, receive all. Everything belongs and everything can be received. We don’t have to deny, dismiss, defy, or ignore. What is, is okay. What is, is the great teacher.

 

The purpose of prayer and religious seeking is to see the truth about reality, to know what is. And at the bottom of what is is always goodness. The foundation is always love.

 

Enlightenment is to recognize and touch the big mystery, the big pattern, the Big Real. Jesus called it the Reign of God; Buddha called it enlightenment. Philosophers might call it Truth. Many of us experience it as Foundational Love. Here is a mantra you might repeat throughout your day to remind yourself of this:

 

God’s life is living itself in me. I am aware of life living itself in me.

 

God’s love is living itself in me. I am aware of love living itself in me.

 

We cannot not live in the presence of God. This is not soft or sentimental spirituality; it ironically demands confidence that must be chosen many times and surrender that is always hard won.

 

 

Week Ten Summary

The Soul of Nature

March 3 – March 8, 2024

 

Sunday

While calling ourselves intelligent, we’ve lost touch with the natural world. As a result, we’ve lost touch with our own souls. I believe we can’t access our full intelligence and wisdom without some real connection to nature.

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

One of the foundational reasons for our sense of isolation and unhappiness is that we have lost our contact with nature.

—Richard Rohr

 

Tuesday

After almost fifty years of being a Franciscan Sister, I learned that beauty for Franciscan theologians and philosophers is the ultimate and most intimate knowing of God, another name for God, the name for God.

—Marya Grathwohl

 

Wednesday

We will be spiritually nourished by this world or we will be starved for spiritual nourishment. No other revelatory experience can do for the human what the experience of the natural world does.

—Thomas Berry

 

Thursday

What can we give back through a pattern of reciprocity to a planet that gives us so much? What will make the more-than-human creation glad that we are here?

—Debra Rienstra

 

Friday

I’m not saying that God is all things or that all things are God (pantheism). I am saying that each living thing reveals some aspect of God. God is greater than the whole of our universe, and as Creator inter-penetrates all created things (panentheism).

—Richard Rohr

Week Ten Practice

Breathing with the Earth

 

Mindfulness teacher Susan Bauer-Wu invites us into a way of praying with and for the Earth:

 

Please start by grounding yourself with the Earth beneath you. Pay attention to how your feet or any other part of your body that is touching the floor is placed. Notice how you are rooted, through a chair or floor, to the Earth and how she literally holds you up—unconditionally, effortlessly, compassionately….

 

Notice your incoming breath—the air entering your nostrils, your mouth, filling up your belly…. Every aspect of you right now, the air that fills your lungs, the clothes that you wear, the food you ate today, all of that comes from outside of you. This ever-present, life-encompassing, compassionate Earth sustains you. You are part of this effortless cycle of give-and-take. You are participating in an exchange with the elements, with other living beings, with the Earth herself. With each inhale, breathe in the Earth’s compassion and with each exhale, breathe out gratitude.

 

Relax here in this indivisible connection with all that surrounds you; breathe in compassion, and breathe out gratitude.

 

Now comes the hard part. Visualize a place or being or community you love that is suffering from climate and environmental harm.... Resting in and rooted by the compassion and gratitude you hold, I want you to access your intention, your motivation to alleviate the suffering of your beloved. Now, when you inhale, breathe in their suffering; and when you exhale, breathe out your compassion….

 

When you are ready … let yourself inhale the Earth’s gratitude for your existence; and when you exhale, offer the compassion and love you have for her. You are inextricably connected with her in every moment and there is no division here.

 Week Ten: The Soul of Nature 3rd March

The Soul of Nature

 Father Richard encourages us to recognize how the soul of nature mirrors our own:

The modern and postmodern self largely lives in a world of its own construction, and it reacts for or against its own human-made ideas. While calling ourselves intelligent, we’ve lost touch with the natural world. As a result, we’ve lost touch with our own souls. I believe we can’t access our full intelligence and wisdom without some real connection to nature.

My spiritual father Francis of Assisi spent many days, weeks, and even months walking the roads of Umbria and letting nature teach him. Francis knew and respected creation, calling animals, sun, moon, and even the weather and the elements his brothers and sisters. Through extended time in nature, Francis became intimately connected with non-human living things and came to recognize that the natural world was also imbued with soul. Almost all male initiation rites—including those of Jesus and John the Baptist (see Matthew 3:13–17)—took place in nature, surely for that reason.

Without such soul recognition and mirroring, we are alienated and separated from nature, and quite frankly, ourselves. Without a visceral connection to the soul of nature, we will not know how to love or respect our own soul. Instead, we try various means to get God and people to like or accept us because we never experience radical belonging to the world itself. We’re trying to say to ourselves and others, “I belong here. I matter.” Of course, that’s true! But contrived and artificial means will never achieve that divine purpose. We are naturally healed in this world when we know things center to center, subject to subject, and soul to soul.

I think of soul as anything’s ultimate meaning which is held within. Soul is the blueprint inside of every created thing telling it what it is and what it can become. When we meet anything at that level, we will respect, protect, and love it.

Many human beings simply haven’t found their own blueprint or soul, so they cannot see it anywhere else. Like knows like! When we only meet reality at the external level, we do not meet our own soul and we have no ability to meet the soul of anything else either. We clergy would have done much better to encourage Christians to discover their souls instead of “save” them.

While everything has a soul, in many people it seems to be dormant, disconnected, and ungrounded. They are not aware of the inherent truth, goodness, and beauty shining through everything. If God is as great, glorious, and wonderful as religions claim, then wouldn’t such a God would make such “wonderfulness” universally available? Surely, such connection and presence are as freely available as the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Week Eight Summary

Life as a Spiritual Journey

February 18 – February 23, 2024

 

Sunday

The hero’s journey is not to just keep going to new places, making the trip a vacation or travelogue. We have to return to where we started and know it in a new way and do life in a new way.

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

By denying their pain and avoiding the necessary falling, many have kept themselves from their own spiritual journeys and depths—and therefore have been kept from their own spiritual heights.

—Richard Rohr

 

Tuesday

The sacred task at hand is to let yourself be reclaimed by something deeper than the immediacy of struggle and pain. This something need not be identified or fixated upon, but surrendered to.

—Pixie Lighthorse

 

Wednesday

The journey is absolutely sacred because we are not just flesh and blood. We are also spirit beings. And what other kind of journey could a spirit being take except for a spiritual journey?

—Barbara A. Holmes

 

Thursday

Jesus wanted his followers to know that the journey they would make involved knowing and enlivening the teachings he advocated. In other words, Jesus was cautioning them, “If you decide to give yourselves to what truly counts in this life, it will cost you.”

—Joyce Rupp

 

Friday

The hero “falls through” what is merely their life situation to discover their Real Life, which is always a much deeper river, hidden beneath the appearances. This deeper discovery is largely what religious people mean by “finding their soul.”—Richard Rohr

Week Eight Practice

For Living without Control

 

Public theologian Kate Bowler shares a prayer for times when we aren’t sure of our next move. She writes:

 

I had a very tender podcast conversation with theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas. We have worked together for almost two decades now, and I rely on him to be incredibly certain about what makes a life good and virtuous…. After describing how many twists and turns that life had taken, he had come to a conclusion: “The ability to live well is the ability to live without so many certainties.”

 

We will have to develop a high tolerance for having so little control and so few bedrock assumptions. So let’s ask our God to “unplan” our days a little and help us live that way.

 

God, I come to you as I am.

It is all I have, really.

And the next one I’m conscious of

will be the same.

I can feel the way I move,

moment to moment,

without the comfort of “solutions.”

 

It seems wild to me now how I imagined

any once-and-for-all cure for this,

or a master plan to ensure things

will work out.

But, truth be told, that’s always been

my secret hope.

 

So, Lord, let’s try again.

I’m begging for a new plan.

I want a plan that is an “unplan.”

I must keep moving and planning,

trying and changing,

knitting my days together even as

they unravel.

So can we do this together?

 

Remind me to pray: come Lord

and quiet the worry.

I step, and you steady me.

I give, and you keep my hands open.

I act, and you fortify me with courage

to try and try and try again.

 

This life is uncertain, Lord,

but your love is not.

You tell the story of my life

regardless of how little I know

about how it ends, except to say,

you were there since the beginning

and you appear on every page.

 

Reflection Prompt

Now that we know that we don’t know, let’s enjoy that thought for a moment. Isn’t it delicious that the God who flung stars into space also knows every beginning and end? So let’s settle in for a moment and let ourselves not know in the presence of the God who already knows.

 

Week Seven Summary

Mystics on Fire with Love

February 11 – February 16, 2024

 

Sunday

Mystics have plumbed the depths of both suffering and love, and emerged with depths of compassion for the world, and a learned capacity to recognize God within themselves, in others, and in all things.

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

Since my Beloved is for me and I for my Beloved, who will be able to separate and extinguish two fires so enkindled? It would amount to laboring in vain, for the two fires have become one.

—Teresa of Ávila

 

Tuesday

Love is a fire of transformation that constantly needs wood to keep the fire alive. Throw yourself into the spiritual fire of divine love and everything you grasp for yourself will be destroyed until there is nothing left but the pure truth of yourself.

—Ilia Delio

 

Wednesday

The fire in the heart of God is the same fire that burns in us once we have the interior vision that lets us acknowledge divinity within ourselves.

—David Richo

 

Thursday

Love is a school of fire, Rumi teaches. You embrace its mystery only in losing yourself, in finally becoming what you love. In the process, you discover that what you had thought to be entirely outside had been within you all along.

—Belden Lane

 

Friday

Mystics and sages of all traditions speak of the inner fire, the divine spark hidden in our very cells and in all that lives. This flame of love is the pure presence of God.

—Paula D’Arcy

Week Seven Practice

Praying to Become Fire

 

Spiritual writer Christine Valters Paintner retells a famous story from the Desert Fathers:

 

Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said:

 

Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation, and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do?

 

The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became lit like ten lamps of fire.

 

He said: Why not become fire? [1]

 

Paintner invites readers to become aware of the fire within:

 

I love the story from the desert fathers above. In the spiritual life we keep our practices, spend time in prayer, seek God in all things, and yet at some point even all this is not enough—and we are asked to become fire. Becoming fire means letting our passion for life and beauty ignite us in the world…. We are called to set the whole world on fire with our passion for God.

 

We may find ourselves drawn to creative expression because it taps into what is most vital and alive in us. This burning in our blood seeks expression in the world, whether through art, song, cooking, gardening, our work, relationships, or in our presence to others. Becoming fire means saying yes to life by the very way we live….

 

Our internal fire maintains our body heat and keeps us alive. Take some time in prayer to get in touch with your body’s fire through your pulse and the beating of your heart. Rest your hand on your heart and find your heartbeat. Feel the warmth of your body rising up from your skin and give thanks for the gift of being alive. Go for a long walk, and pause every so often to experience the rising heat in your body and to feel your body’s pulse speeding up.

Week Six Summary

The Seven Stories: Part Two

February 4 – February 9, 2024

 

Sunday

If we’re honest, culture forms us much more than the gospel. It seems we have kept the basic storyline of human history in place rather than allow the gospel to reframe and redirect the story.

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

If we simply give ourselves over to this narrative, to the storyline of “Uns and Nots” … then we abdicate the one thing that can reposition our relationship to the entire experience of our life: responsibility.

—angel Kyodo williams

 

Tuesday

Whether it’s bigger sofas or bigger houses or bigger jobs or bigger bank accounts or reputation or ego or a bigger empire, we don’t have to look too far to find the accumulation story at work. The more you think you need to accumulate, the bigger fence you need to build around yourself and the fewer people you will trust and let into your life.

—Gareth Higgins

 

Wednesday

Jesus doesn’t give up on his story, but to the very end, he lives this Seventh Story. In the resurrection stories, he doesn’t come back saying, “Okay, enough of that love story. I’m going to come back a second time to get revenge on all those people.” The story of the resurrection is, “Let’s keep this story going.” Jesus lives and dies by a story of love, and the protagonist of the story is love. —Brian McLaren

 

Thursday

I’m seeing people waking up, being in relationship, grieving and raging and marching together, reimagining their own area of public life, their own sphere of influence in ways that I never imagined possible before. In those acts, in those moments and those gatherings around fierce love, I feel like I see glimpses of the nation, the world, that is wanting to be born.

—Valarie Kaur

 

Friday

The Trinity has tremendous practical, pastoral, and political implications. We don’t have time for anything less than loving! Fear will never build a “new creation” (Galatians 6:15); threat is an entirely bankrupt and false storyline.

—Richard Rohr

 

Week Six Practice

Living by Our Values

 

Randy Woodley points to the values that have been essential to Indigenous wisdom:

 

Why would human beings promote systems, structures, ideologies, and lifestyles that work against their own survival?

 

Good air quality is also a medicine. So is clean water. And healthy soil. Even a stress-free life is known to prolong people’s lives. It seems to me that people in the Western world are working against their own self-interest—against their own healing—and against their own grandchildren’s well-being. What will it take to change?

 

The only way I see such a destructive lifestyle changing is if people begin adopting different values and then living out these values. Our Indigenous ancestors figured this out—by trial and error and through necessity—so many years ago. These are the ancient values … that help us reconnect to sacred Earth.

 

    Respect: Respect everyone. Everyone and everything is sacred.

    Harmony: Seek harmony and cooperation with people and nature.

    Friendship: Increase the number and depth of your close friends and family.

    Humor: Laugh at yourself; we are merely human.

    Equality: Everyone expresses their voice in decisions.

    Authenticity: Speak from your heart.

    History: Learn from the past. Live presently by looking back.

    Balance work and rest: Work hard, but rest well.

    Generosity: Share what you have with others.

    Accountability: We are all interconnected. We are all related.

 

This is by no means a comprehensive list. But if we nurture these values in our lives, we will become more rooted in the community of creation. Begin working your way down the list and incorporating these Indigenous values into your own life. Search for songs, ceremonies, and stories from your own ancestry. Look for friends who align with these values. Then commit to immersing yourself in a new way of living….

 

Remind yourself that you are part of the community of creation. Choose one or two of the values on the list and try to embody them today.

 

Week Five Summary

The Seven Stories: Part One

January 28 – February 2, 2024

 

Sunday

When we believe in a deep way that life is good, God is good, and humanity is good, we do exciting and imaginative things because we are confident that we are part of a storyline that is going somewhere good.

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

In the Seventh Story, the story of reconciliation, we still get to win, just not at anybody else’s expense. In the Seventh Story, human beings are not the protagonists of the world. Love is.

—Gareth Higgins and Brian McLaren

 

Tuesday

In Genesis, the nature of God in the first creation story is not God dominating and forcing the world into a certain mold. It is “Let there be light.” It’s a permission-giving power.

—Brian McLaren

 

Wednesday

Unless a restorative consciousness is engaged, revolutions run the risk of merely turning the tables, replacing one set of broken relationships with yet more domination, perhaps a slightly less oppressive form of domination, but domination nonetheless.

—Gareth Higgins

 

Thursday

All the people that Jesus hangs out with and eats with are people who are being scapegoated, people who are being used for somebody else’s purification narrative.  These are the people that Jesus humanizes.

—Brian McLaren

 

Friday

Instead of withdrawing from the world, whether as individuals or groups or nations, we are called to be fully immersed in the places we are. Our contemplative practices are always ways of being more alive in the world and more active for the common good.

—Gareth Higgins

 

 

Week Five Practice

Peace and Light

 

Brian McLaren and Carmen Acevedo Butcher offered this meditation at the end of the CAC online gathering Stories That Wound, Stories That Heal as a way of encouraging listeners to live by the Seventh Story.

 

McLaren: I’d like to invite you to take a couple of deep breaths, get comfortable sitting or standing where you are, and let your body come to rest for a moment. Imagine this Seventh Story as a tiny point of light. The story comes through your ears or you see it lived out in someone’s life. It enters who you are. The story of peace, whose hero is love. It’s a story of justice and equity and safety and joy. Imagine that story as a little point of light that comes to rest in the center of your being. Then imagine that little point of light becoming a pool of light and a spring or a fountain of light. Just for the next few moments, picture that point of light growing within you.

 

Butcher: Imagine yourself becoming full of that light. Now imagine that light filling you and that light shining out through you. Imagine now that this light coming out from you touches those around you, those in your family, your neighbors, others in your neighborhood, those in your workplace, those in your faith community, and all others you meet. Imagine that this light embraces them and also that it fills them.

 

McLaren: We all know that there are many other stories at work in the world, stories that are wounding people, stories that maybe wounded each of us. Let’s realize that we can be tempted to respond to those stories that wound in a way that continues that [wounding] story. For a few moments, let’s hold in our heart a prayer, a request, a plea for help, that our lives would not be sucked into the stories that wound, but that we would live on a steady course of a story that heals.

 

McLaren: May I live in the story of peace, whose hero is love. May that story live in me.

 

Butcher: May the story of God’s peace bring healing to us and to the world.

 

McLaren: And may the story of God’s love bring healing to us and to the world. Amen.

 

 

Week Four Summary

Faithful Resilience

January 21 – January 26, 2024

 

Sunday

Resilience is really a secular word for what religion was trying to say with the word faith. Without a certain ability to let go, to trust, to allow, we won’t get to any new place.

—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

When you take on the confusion and the violence and you refine them, purify them into something new, you are doing what in the vocabulary of faith we call consecrating your chaos. To consecrate is to make holy, to put it into service for good.

—Otis Moss III

 

Tuesday

When there is more fluidity, there is more potential for care, and that care helps us to reduce violence against ourselves and others. Freedom is the agency to choose how we want to be in relationship with ourselves and the world around us.

—Lama Rod Owens

 

Wednesday

The joy spoken of in Holy Scripture is accessible, but also has a certain “beyondness” to it: The world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away. As we hear from Jesus in John 16:22: “So you have pain now; but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”

—Barbara A. Holmes

 

Thursday

If we are not trained in a trust of mystery and some degree of tolerance for ambiguity and suffering, we will not proceed very far on the spiritual journey.

—Richard Rohr

 

Friday

If there is any bravery in me, it is in my refusal to let fear eclipse my imagination for anything other than pain. To maintain imagination for both the beautiful and the terrible is to marry prudence and hope.

—Cole Arthur Riley

 

Week Four Practice

Gaining Equanimity

 

Psychologist Rick Hanson suggests we can increase our ability to feel and act from compassion through nurturing our own equanimity:

 

The word “compassion” comes from the Latin roots com and pati which mean “to suffer with.” We add the suffering of others to our own, a gift at the heart of being human. How can we be moved by the sorrows of others without becoming flooded, drained, or burned out?

 

To sustain compassion, we need equanimity, a kind of inner shock absorber between the core of your being and whatever is passing through awareness.… With equanimity, you can feel the pain of others without being swept away by it—which helps you open to it even more fully.…

 

As you face the enormity of the suffering in this world, you might feel flooded with a sense of despair at the impossibility of ever doing enough. If this happens, it can help to take some kind of action, since action eases despair.…

 

Think about the people in your life, including those you don’t know well. Could you make a difference to someone? Seemingly little things can be very touching. Consider humanity in general as well as nonhuman animals, and see if something is calling to you. Not to burden you, but to push back against helplessness and despair.…

 

Also take some time to reflect on what you have already done to help others and on what you are currently doing. Imagine how all this has rippled out into the world in ways seen and unseen. The truth of what you have given rests alongside the truth that there is still so much suffering, and knowing the one will help your heart stay open to the other.

 

Week Three Summary

Holding the Tension

January 14 – January 19, 2024

Sunday

I am talking about just holding the tension, not necessarily finding a resolution or closure to paradox. We must agree to live without resolution, at least for a while. I think opening to this holding pattern is the very name and description of faith.—Richard Rohr

 

Monday

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with.

—Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Tuesday

Remember that we are braced by a God who is too big for one-dimensional truths, and this is a good thing. It’s not that we hold paradox; it’s that paradox holds us. We are held in a deep place. An ample place. A generous place. Though we might fear paradox, God does not.

—Debie Thomas

 

Wednesday

Reality is paradoxical. If we’re honest, everything is a clash of contradictions, and there is nothing on this created earth that is not a mixture at the same time of good and bad, helpful and unhelpful, endearing and maddening, living and dying.—Richard Rohr

 

Thursday

It’s a strange affair to be Black and live in America, and even stranger to be Black and a person of faith in these yet-to-be-United States, to carry around the burden of a socially constructed idea called race and yet be filled with a divinely inspired mandate to eradicate all limitations to the human soul.

—Otis Moss III

 

Friday

The times when we meet or reckon with our contradictions are often turning points, opportunities to enter into the deeper mystery of God.

—Richard Rohr

Week Three Practice

Prayer: For Beauty in the Mundane

In Cole Arthur Riley’s book Black Liturgies, she prays for our capacity to hold together the extraordinary and the ordinary:

God of every beautiful thing,

Make us people of wonder. Show us how to hold on to nuance and vision when our souls become addicted to pain, to the unlovely. It is far easier to see the gloom and decay; so often it sings a louder song. Attune our hearts to the good still stirring in our midst, not that we would give ourselves to toxic positivity or neglect the pain of the world, but that we would be people capable of existing in the tension. Grant us habits of sacred pause. Let us marvel not just at the grand or majestic, but beauty’s name etched into every ordinary moment. Let the mundane swell with a mystery that makes us breathe deeper still. And by this, may we be sustained and kept from despair. Amen.

 

Engaging with a World on Fire

January 7 – January 12, 2024

 

Sunday

Every day Jesus would follow the same rhythm: withdraw for solitude, but then come back to engage by healing, feeding, caring, welcoming, binding up the wounds of this world, and implanting in people a vision of resilience, engaging with a world on fire.

—Brian McLaren

 

Monday

Amidst this time of planetary change and disruption, the CAC envisions a movement of transformed people working together for a transformed world.

—Richard Rohr

 

Tuesday

We must allow our imaginations to begin to live within the world that responsible science is telling us will be our fate unless drastic changes are made soon. We must do this so that we can acknowledge where our hope really resides—not with us, but in the power of love and renewal that lives within the universe, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God.

—Sallie McFague

 

Wednesday

We’re on a quest to find out how to have an engaged expression of deep spiritual life that makes a difference in a world on fire.

—Brian McLaren

 

Thursday

We need regular quiet time with God in order to have the strength, courage, and vitality required for social action: for moving against injustices, speaking truth to power, and assisting in humanitarian efforts.

—Lerita Coleman Brown

 

Friday

God offers us quiet, contemplative eyes; God also calls us to prophetic and critical involvement in the pain and sufferings of our world—both at the same time. This is so obvious in the life and ministry of Jesus that I wonder why it has not been taught as an essential part of Christianity.

—Richard Roh

Week Two Practice

Reclaiming Our Attention

Buddhist teacher Oren Jay Sofer considers how we engage with the world’s suffering:

 

How do we meet our challenges and choose wisely? To truly meet something is to encounter it with awareness, enter into relationship with it, and respond appropriately. How do we respond when we contact pain, sorrow, and injustice? Do we become broken, embittered, lost, or frozen? Do we lash out in anger, fear, or hatred, adding fuel to the fire? Or are we able to find the balance and clarity to meet the suffering of our world with tenderness, wisdom, and skillful action?

 

Sofer recommends beginning with the grounding practice of attention.

 

Unraveling the hurt we carry and finding our place in a world on fire start wherever we are. Directing attention begins to train the heart. Like a green shoot breaking through concrete, attention cracks the façade of the past so we are not prisoners of our habits or the programming of culture.…

 

Contemplative practice is one powerful way to reclaim attention. Rest your attention with an anchor, a home base for meditation such as the breath, a sensation, an image, a sound, or a mantra. An anchor is a primary meditation object to help steady your attention and limit mind-wandering, like an anchor for a ship.… This mental action—recognizing that attention has wandered and then consciously redirecting it—strengthens your capacity to pay attention and develops a host of other skillful qualities, including patience, kindness, and concentration.…

 

The more you cultivate this quality of attention, the more you build inner resources. I am not encouraging you to avoid the painful realities of life and look only at what’s uplifting. The idea here is to strengthen your capacity to choose what you attend to. Then—when you turn to face pain, distress, and hardship—instead of feeling helpless or demoralized, you will have more energy, confidence, and clarity to meet the challenge.

Week One Summary

Radical Resilience

December 31, 2023 – January 5, 2024

Sunday

If we’re going to help people take wise action and imagine a better future amid coming troubles, then we will have to help people find that better future within themselves, so they can live that better future out into the world. And that’s what we hope to do together in 2024. —Brian McLaren

 

Monday

We humans as a species are not attracted to change. We like things the way we like things. And yet the first words out of Jesus’ mouth tell us that he’s come to give us a philosophy of change: “Repent,”—change your mind—“for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2).

—Richard Rohr

 

Tuesday

We usually think of resilience as the ability to recover from an adverse experience and pick up our lives where we left off…. But there are times when adversity permanently changes our reality and we can’t go back to the way things were…. Resilience then becomes the work of coming through the adversity.

—Alice Updike Scannell

 

Wednesday

In each generation, we are tested. Will we love our neighbors as ourselves? How do we survive together? How do we resist together? How do we respond to unspeakable brutality and the collective oppression of our neighbors?

—Barbara Holmes

 

Thursday

People who fail to do something right, by even their own definition of right, are those who often break through to enlightenment and compassion.

—Richard Rohr

 

Friday

The roots of fear run deep. The hope we embrace must run just as deep. No matter what happens we must keep dancing, hand in hand, joined in a circle of equality, constantly moving in the slow rotation of justice and prayer.

—Steven Charleston

Week One Practice

New Year, New Opportunities

 

Joanna Macy (b. 1929) has worked for decades to support the Great Turning, a movement towards life-sustaining cultures and economies. She writes:

 

When a change wants to happen, it looks for people to act through. How do we know when a change wants to happen? We feel the want inside us. There is a desire, a tugging at us to be involved. But that doesn’t make the change inevitable, because standing in our way are all those who say we’re wasting our time, that it isn’t possible, that it will be too hazardous. For the change to happen through us, we need to counter those voices. A shift can happen within us when we break through a resistance that has been holding us back.

 

When we see with new eyes, we recognize how every action has significance, how the bigger story of the Great Turning is made up of countless smaller stories of communities, campaigns, and personal actions.… If you were freed from fear and doubt, what would you choose to do for the Great Turning?

 

Macy and co-author Chris Johnstone offer several practical questions to help identify one’s goals and resources for change:

 

    If you knew you could not fail, what would you most want to do for the healing of our world?

    What specific goal or project could you realistically aim to achieve in the next twelve months that would contribute to this?

    What resources, inner and outer, do you have that will help you do this? …

    What resources, inner and external, will you need to acquire? What might you need to learn, develop, or obtain?

    How might you stop yourself? What obstacles might you throw in the way?

    How will you overcome these obstacles?

    What step can you take in the next week, no matter how small—making a phone call, sending an email, or scheduling in some reflection time—that will move you toward this goal.