Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
From the Center for Action and Contemplation
The Wisdom of Contemplation
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. . . . Prayer is the opening of mind and heart—our whole being—to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Through grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing—closer than consciousness itself. —Thomas Keating 
Although Wisdom “work” and contemplative practice are not synonymous, I hope you can sense the resonance between the two paths. Each has the potential to open us up to greater love, compassion, and action through a conscious surrendering to greater knowing and the Great Knower. Whenever heart, mind, and body are all present and accounted for at the same time, when they are all “online” in the language of Wisdom, we can experience pure presence, a moment of deep inner connection with the pure, gratuitous Being of anything and everything. It may be experienced as a quiet leap of joy in the heart, absolute clarity in the mind, or a deep centeredness in the body.
Contemplation, like the Wisdom path, is an exercise in openness, in keeping all three spaces open long enough for us to notice other hidden material. When we can do that, we are content with the present moment and can then wait upon futures we know will be given by grace. This is “full-access knowing”—not irrational, but intuitive, both rational and trans-rational at the same time.
The supreme work of spirituality, which makes presence possible, is keeping the heart space open (the result of conscious love), keeping a “right mind” (the work of contemplation or meditation), and keeping the body alive with contentment or, as Cynthia would say, sensation, without attachment to its past woundings (often the work of healing). In that state, we are neither resisting nor clinging, and we can experience something genuinely new.
Those who can keep all three spaces open at the same time will know The Presence that connects everything to everything. Surely this us what Jesus is talking about in his several parables that warn us to stay awake! (See Mark 13:34-37; Matthew 24:40-44 and 25:1-13) Being awake is a prerequisite for true prayer. This way of knowing has little to do with belonging to any particular denomination or religion; it is found at the headwaters of all the world’s major religions. Each has its own piece of Wisdom, its own techniques and teachings that urge us to bring our whole selves to the job of growing and “wising” up.
Gateway to Action & Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?
Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.
Listen to Fr. Richard read the prayer.
 Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart, 20th anniversary ed. (Bloomsbury: 2006), 175.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017), 32-33.
To further explore the integration of contemplative practice and the wisdom tradition, we invite you to join Cynthia Bourgeault’s online course Introductory Wisdom School.
Image credit: Saint Serapius (detail), Francisco de Zurbarán, 1628, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.
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Study the Wisdom Path with Cynthia Bourgeault
Just This from Richard Rohr
Just This is a collection of brief, evocative meditations and practices that invite us to cultivate the gift of waking up to the beauty of reality in all its glorious ordinariness. Richard Rohr helps us discover that the contemplative mind does not tell us what to see; it teaches us how to see what we behold.
Our 7-year CONSPIRE conference series explores Richard Rohr’s seven themes of the Alternative Orthodoxy. For the final, capstone experience watch all five of our core faculty—Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, Barbara Holmes, Brian McLaren, and Richard Rohr—teaching together for the first time. Register for the CONSPIRE 2020 webcast and join us online live May 15–17 or watch the replay.
2020 Daily Meditations Theme
What does God ask of us? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. —Micah 6:8
Franciscan Richard Rohr founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in 1987 because he saw a deep need for the integration of both action and contemplation. If we pray but don’t act justly, our faith won’t bear fruit. And without contemplation, activists burn out and even well-intended actions can cause more harm than good. In today’s religious, environmental, and political climate our compassionate engagement is urgent and vital.
In this year’s Daily Meditations, Father Richard helps us learn the dance of action and contemplation. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time! Click the video to learn more about the theme and to find reflections you may have missed.
Inspiration for this week's banner image: A Wisdom way of knowing . . . requires the whole of one’s being and is ultimately attained only through the yielding of one’s whole being into the intimacy of knowing and being known. . . . It doesn’t happen apart from complete vulnerability and self-giving. But the divine Lover is absolutely real, and for those willing to bear the wounds of intimacy, the knowledge of that underlying coherence—“in which all things hold together”—is both possible and inevitable. —Cynthia Bourgeault