Tag Archives: Richard Rohr

Jan 18 – Repost: Anger Does Its Work

Below is today’s Daily Meditation from Richard Rohr‘s Center for Action and Contemplation. It highlights a teaching from Brian McLaren on the positive gift and use of anger. See https://cac.org/daily-meditations/ for more information on this valuable resource.

Anger Does Its Work

Prophets are often known for their anger against injustice. CAC teacher Brian McLaren makes a connection between anger and love:  

I think about things I love … birds, trees, wetlands, forested mountains, coral reefs, my grandchildren … and I see the bulldozers and smokestacks and tanks on the horizon.  

And so, because I love, I am angry. Really angry.  

And if you’re not angry, I think you should check your pulse, because if your heart beats in love for something, someone, anything … you’ll be angry when it’s harmed or threatened.  

To paraphrase René Descartes (1596–1650): I love; therefore, I’m angry. […]

Anger makes most sense to me through an analogy of pain. What pain is to my body, anger is to my soul, psyche, or inner self. When I put my hand on a hot stove, physical pain reflexes make me react quickly, to address with all due urgency whatever is damaging my fragile tissues. Physical pain must be strong enough to prompt me to action, immediate action, or I will be harmed, even killed.  

Similarly, when I or someone I love is in the company of insult, injustice, injury, degradation, or threat, anger awakens. It tells me to change my posture or position; it demands I address the threat.

McClaren shares scriptural passages that urge us not to react in anger, and describes how contemplative practice can direct our anger into loving action:  

Don’t be overcome with evil. Overcome evil with good. (See Romans 12:21).  

When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek. (See Luke 6:29).  

Do not return evil for evil to anyone. (See Romans 12:17).  

Bless those who persecute you. Bless, and do not curse. (See Romans 12:14).  

In each case, we’re given alternatives to our natural reactions, alternatives that break us out of fight/flight/freeze, mirroring, and judging. In the split second when we take that long, deep breath, we might breathe out a prayer: “Guide me, Spirit of God!” We might pause to hear if the Spirit inspires us with some non-reactive, non-reflexive response. […]

Anger does its work. It prompts us to action, for better or worse. With time and practice, we can let the reflexive reactions of fight/flight/freeze, mirroring, and judging pass by like unwanted items on a conveyor belt. Also, with practice, we can make space for creative actions to be prompted by our anger … actions that are in tune with the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22) … actions that overcome evil with good and bring healing instead of hate.  

So, yes, you bet I’m angry. It’s a source of my creativity. It’s a vaccination against apathy and complacency. It’s a gift that can be abused—or wisely used. Yes, it’s a temptation, but it’s also a resource and an opportunity, as unavoidable and necessary as pain. It’s part of the gift of being human and being alive.

Brian D. McLaren, “Anger, Contemplation, and Action,” Oneing 6, no. 1, Anger (Spring 2018): 84, 85, 89, 90. Available in print and PDF download.

https://cac.org/about/our-teachers/

Jan 15 – Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Change is difficult, for us and for the collective. Unfortunately, when we make progress, it’s easy to assume that it will continue without our continued effort. No, we must not give up. Our efforts to sustain the progress is needed today and everyday going forward. It takes all of us to make a Beloved Community.

Today’s senryu: Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

listen to prophets,

become a prophet, and change

the future for good

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thich Nhat Hanh statues in the Beloved Community Garden at Magnolia Grove Monastery https://magnoliagrovemonastery.org/photo-gallery/#bwg2/25

See today’s daily meditation from the Center for Action AND Contemplation below and here: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/disrupting-the-status-quo-2023-01-15/

Disrupting the Status Quo

Richard Rohr describes how speaking truth to power is an essential part of the prophet’s mission:

One of the gifts of the prophets is that they evoke a crisis where one did not appear to exist before their truth-telling. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. was blamed for creating violence—but those who had eyes to see and were ready to hear recognized, “My God, the violence was already there!” Structural violence was inherent in the system, but it was denied and disguised. No one was willing to talk about it. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and others said, “We’re going to talk about it.”

Prophets always talk about the untalkable and open a huge new area of “talkability.” For those who are willing to go there, it helps us see what we didn’t know how to see until they helped us to see it. That’s how we begin to recognize a prophet—there is this widening of seeing, this deepening of a truth that was always there.

Prophets generate a crisis, so it’s almost understandable why they’re usually called troublemakers and so often killed. They generate the crisis because while everybody else is saying the emperor is beautifully clothed, they are willing to say, “No, he’s naked.” We’re not supposed to say that the emperor has no clothes!

It’s the nature of culture to have its agreed-upon lies. Culture holds itself together by projecting its shadow side elsewhere. That’s called the “scapegoat mechanism.” René Girard, Gil Bailie, and others have pointed out that the scapegoat mechanism is the subtext of the entire biblical revelation. It’s the tendency to export our evil elsewhere and to hate it there, and therefore to remain in splendid delusion. If there isn’t a willingness to be critical of our country, our institution, and ourselves, we certainly can’t be prophets. [1]

When the prophet is missing from the story, the shadow side of things is always out of control, as in much of the world today, where we do not honor wisdom or truth.

It seems the prophet’s job is first to deconstruct current illusions, which is the status quo, and then reconstruct on a new and honest foundation. That is why the prophet is never popular with the comfortable or with those in power. Only a holy few have any patience with the deconstruction of egos and institutions.

The prophets are “radical” teachers in the truest sense of the word. The Latin radix means root, and the prophets go to the root causes and root vices and “root” them out! Their educational method is to expose and accuse with no holds barred. Ministers and religion in general tend to concentrate on effects and symptoms, usually a mopping up exercise after the fact. As someone once put it, we throw life preservers to people drowning in the swollen stream, which is all well and good—but prophets work far upstream to find out why the stream is swollen in the first place. [2]

[1] Adapted from Joan Chittister and Richard RohrProphets Then, Prophets Now (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2006). Available as MP3 download.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Soul Brothers: Men in the Bible Speak to Men Today (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), 31, 39, 40.

Jan 13 – RESPONDING TO THE CALL AND …

Swim relay race @ Sportskeeda

Animals, companion AND wild, teach us daily, if we take time to notice, to listen, to contemplate. In our interconnected world, we cannot survive without others; biologically or metaphysically.

This week, I reflected on our animal nature, mammal classification, omnivore eating habits, AND our ability to communicate AND be compassionate like fellow animals on this planet (see previous posts AND their references to birds, dogs AND a whale).

Individually, we are both special AND incapable of living without many other life forms in our biosphere. It “takes a village” to learn and grow … it takes an environment to be born AND live before we die.

One of our individual attributes is the talent or gift we uniquely possess to contribute to our environment AND our community. See today’s senryu AND daily meditation from Richard Rohr below.

Today’s senryu: RESPONDING TO THE CALL AND …

here I am, now what?

receiving AND giving back –

mammal relay race

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

From the Center for Action AND Contemplation

Most of the image is taken up by a photo of a bird taking flight in a wooded area. The bird's wings are stretched wide and the blur of motion can be seen.

Week Two: Responding to the Call

Surrendering to Our Soul Gift

For Father Richard, God shows us our soul’s calling through spiritual practice AND letting go of the ego’s drive:

Our age has come to expect satisfaction. We have grown up in an absolutely unique period when having AND possessing AND accomplishing have been real options. They have given us an illusion of fulfillment—AND fulfillment now—as long as we are clever enough, quick enough, AND pray or work hard enough for our goals or rewards. [1]

I am convinced that the Book of Jonah can best be read as God moving someone from a mere sense of a religious job or career to an actual sense of personal call, vocation, or destiny. It takes being “swallowed by a beast” AND taken into a dark place of nesting AND nourishing that allows us to move to a deeper place called personal vocation. It involves a movement from being ego-driven to being soul-drawn. The energy is very different. It comes quietly AND generously from within. Once we have accepted our call, we do not look for payment, reward, or advancement because we have found our soul gift.

I have met many people who have found their soul gift, AND they are always a joy to work with. It’s apparent they are not counting the cost, but just want to serve and help. Benedictines have a group they call oblates, which means “those who are offered.” To come with our lives as an offering is quite different from the seeking of a career, security, status, or title. Even the [retired head of the] Vatican’s office for bishops dared to admit publicly [his] worries about rampant careerism among bishops worldwide as they sought promotion to higher AND more prestigious dioceses. [2] It sounds like we still have James AND John wanting to sit at the right AND left sides of the throne of Jesus (Mark 10:37). Maybe young people need to start there, but we can see why Jonah has to be shoved out of the boat. Otherwise, he never would have gotten to the “right” Nineveh.

We must listen, wait, AND pray for our charism AND call. Most of us are really only good at one or two things. Meditation should lead to a clarity about who we are AND, maybe even more, who we are not. This second revelation is just as important as the first. I have found it difficult over the years to sit down AND tell people what is not their gift. It is usually very humiliating for individuals to face their own illusions AND inabilities. We are not usually a truth-speaking people. We don’t speak the truth to one another, nor does our culture encourage the journey toward the True Self. The false self often sets itself up for unnecessary failures and humiliations. [3]

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993), 1. 

[2] See Michael J. Buckley, “Resources for Reform from the First Millennium,” in Common Calling: The Laity and Governance of the Catholic Church, ed. Stephen J. Pope (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2004), 77.

[3] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (New York: Paulist Press, 2014), 82–83.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Jenna Keiper, Untitled Bosque, Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 10, and Untitled 8. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

Just as a bird notices an impulse AND takes flight, so we also hear AND respond. 

https://cac.org/daily-meditations/

Jan 3 – Contemplation – Mindfulness by Another Name

Richard Rohr on Contemplative Prayer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geXe_zXE3PQ)

This week I am focusing on mindfulness aka contemplation or meditation. Today, I focus on Richard Rohr‘s 90-minute video offering a Christian perspective of contemplation. Here are the top 10 key highlights for me:

  1. the quicker we let go of ego and move beyond a positive self-image, the quicker we realize that we are spiritual beings learning how to be fully human
  2. religion is both the best and worst thing in the world if we never transform beyond our ego
  3. Christianity is simply learning how to lose graciously; a Christian is someone who has met one
  4. We shouldn’t say prayers; rather we should be one
  5. it’s right relationship over correct performance
  6. move beyond limousine liberal imaging
  7. how you do anything (in the present moment) is how you do everything
  8. the first half of any contemplative sit is seeing our own “garbage” and hopefully the second half is letting it go to reconnect with present moment awareness
  9. to observe is far more effective than attacking
  10. the most radical thing we can do is contemplation

Finally, I especially appreciated Rohr’s summation that we should not confuse meeting attendance or group membership with transformation. The bigger picture of contemplation is not to get hung up on posture, process or programs. Contemplation is about reconnecting with our higher power and recognizing our relationship with everyone and everything.

Today’s senryu: A Rose Is a Rose …

no navel-gazing

let your ego go and then

reconnect with love

YouTube

CYE Countdown – Dec 16 – Love All the Way

freeprintme.com

We are halfway through the final month of 2022. Let’s make the most of the time remaining.

Today’s senryu: Love All the Way

we are still alive 🙂

our very breath can be joy

let’s love all the way

Today’s daily meditation from Richard Rohr, Love Does No Harm, is a great reminder of why we can be joyful. (https://cac.org/daily-meditations/) Here’s a brief extract:

Father Richard invites us to trust the Inherent Goodness of the universe:

The goal of the spiritual journey is to discover and move toward connectedness on ever new levels. Of course, we won’t become vulnerable enough to connect unless we learn to trust over and over again. We must ask ourselves, “Is the universe a friendly place or not?” The spiritual experience is about trusting that when we stop holding ourselves, Inherent Goodness will still uphold us. Many of us call that God, but it isn’t necessary. It is the trusting that is important. When we fall into such Primal Love, we realize that everything is foundationally okay.

(Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, selected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 104–105.)

https://cac.org/about/our-teachers/

High Coo – Dec 15 – A Benevolent Universe

Universe – Solar System blogspot.com

Today’s senryu: A Benevolent Universe

what we see reveals

our perspective shapes belief

see good and enjoy

Below is a beautiful sharing from Richard Rohr‘s Daily Meditations referencing Satish Kumar‘s thoughts on A Benevolent Universe. (https://cac.org/daily-meditations/) Hope you enjoy this.

Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk, is an activist and educator who has studied both Eastern religions and Western economics and cultures. He writes that recognizing a benevolent universe helps us participate in the flow of generosity:   

We live in a benevolent universe. . . .  

The benevolence of the soil is endless; it helps one single seed to multiply into millions of seeds for hundreds of years, producing colourful, aromatic, juicy and delicious fruit, feeding birds, bees, humans and animals. The tree celebrates the benevolence of the soil and becomes benevolent in return, offering its fruit to whoever is in need, without condition and without judgement. . . .  

The benevolence of the sun is beyond the capacity of words to describe. It burns itself to maintain life. . . . It provides conditions for photosynthesis for the whole plant kingdom to nourish itself and give nourishment to bacteria, insects, birds and animals. 

The moon is benevolent. It maintains the cycle of life and cycle of time. Time and tide are sustained by its presence. . . .  

Rain is benevolent. It . . . delivers itself to every farm, field, forest, mountain and human habitat, free of charge, without needing any external supply of energy. It moistens the soil, quenches the thirst, fills rivers, ponds, lakes and wells and in partnership with the sun it feeds the world. . . .  

Air is benevolent. We breathe, therefore we are. Air is related to the spirit, to inspiration, to spirituality. . . . Air is breath of Brahman, breath of the universe, breath of God. In Sanskrit air is prana, which means life itself. . . . 

Space is benevolent. All and everything is held in space and by space. All movements, all changes and every kind of dynamism are sustained in the stillness of space. We always need to be mindful of reducing our clutter and maintaining spaciousness in order to be detached and free. 

Soul is benevolent. Compassion, kindness, generosity and inner luminosity are the qualities of the soul. Mind, intelligence, and consciousness are held in and processed by soul. Soul is the seed of life. Feelings, emotions, sentiments, intuition and reason pass through soul and manifest in the world. . . . It is not only humans who have soul; animals, birds, insects and microbes have soul. Soil, trees, rocks and rivers have soul. . . .

The world is how you see it and what you make of it. If you look at the world with benevolent eyes, the world reciprocates with benevolence. If you project suspicion and self-interest, you get the same in return. Trust begets trust and fear begets fear. Recognizing the benevolence of the universe is not to deny the shadow side, but seeing nature as red in tooth and claw and people as selfish and greedy makes us respond in similar vein. If we sow seeds of malevolence, malevolence will grow; if we sow seeds of benevolence, benevolence will grow.

Satish Kumar, Soil, Soul, Society: A New Trinity for Our Time (Brighton, UK: Leaping Hare Press, 2017), 160, 161–162, 163. 

Satish Kumar at The Convention on Modern Liberty, London, 28/2/2009 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satish_Kumar

High Coo – Dec 11 – Love Everything?

I’m a work in progress with no clear finish line in sight. Yet, I aspire to being and doing better.

Below is my latest senryu and the quote that inspired it.

Today’s senryu: Love Everything?

I know I love you

and animals and plants – but –

purists, not so much

Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to understand it every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love … Things flow and are indirectly linked together, and if you push here, something will move at the other end of the world.Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov as quoted by Richard Rohr in Immortal Diamond (c) 2013, Jossey-Bass, p.159

https://www.amazon.com/Immortal-Diamond

https://www.amazon.com/Brothers-Karamazov-Bicentennial-Novel-Epilogue