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 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.