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Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

From the Center for Action and Contemplation

Image credit: Saint Serapius (detail), Francisco de Zurbarán, 1628, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.

 

Week Seven

 

Mind, Body, Heart

 

 

 

A Way of Being
Sunday, February 16, 2020

 

Wisdom is not the result of mental effort. It cannot be gained through intellectual study. Even life experiences do not make us wise if we don’t process them humbly and consciously. Sadly, most of us were never taught how to do that, which is why so few older people are true elders, with any wisdom to pass on to the next generations.  

Wisdom is a way of being—a way of being whole and fully open to a knowing beyond rational thought alone. Do not confuse this kind of knowing as lightweight, saccharine, or ephemeral. The exact opposite is true. To see in such a way requires the hard work of keeping all our inner spaces open—mind, heart, and body—all at once. This is at the center of any authentic spirituality, and it does not happen easily or without paying respectful and non-egoic attention to the moment in front of me and within me—which I could call prayer.  

My fellow CAC faculty member and respected wisdom teacher Cynthia Bourgeault writes of the deep interior commitment that must be made by those who embark on this path:  

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. [1] 

Since the Enlightenment, Westerners have become overly reliant on the intelligence of the mind, neglecting that of the heart and body. But by heart, I don’t mean just feeling and emotion. Cynthia Bourgeault calls the heart “an organ for the perception of divine purpose and beauty.” [2] Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, describes the spiritual faculty of heart as “a quality of intuitive awareness . . . a sense of inclusive, compassionate, undefended, direct in-touch-ness with what is really there.” [3] This “undefended knowing” allows us to drop beneath the thinking mind, to touch upon real experience, unhindered by the ego’s sense of self, without fear or agenda. 

The Wisdom lineage offers us a healthy middle place, trapped in neither of the two alternating mediocrities of knowing: all heart and little head (lacking rational, historical, or scientific grounding) or all head and little heart (lacking deep personal experience, subtlety, or authentic love). For a holistic and mature faith, we need both head and heart grounded in our physical and sensory body. 

 

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.

 

 

[1] Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart (Jossey-Bass: 2003), 10. 

[2] Ibid., 34. 

[3] Tilden Edwards, “Undefended Knowing: A Conversation with Richard Rohr and Tilden Edwards” (HuffPost: 2013), https://www.huffpost.com/entry/undefended-knowing-a-conv_b_3744513.  

Adapted from Richard Rohr,  Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 70-71; and 

Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2007), 13-14.  

For more on this year’s theme of action and contemplation, listen to the third season of our podcast Another Name for Every Thing, which launched February 15! 

Image credit: Saint Serapius (detail), Francisco de Zurbarán, 1628, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut. 

 

 

 

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News from the CAC

 

Study the Wisdom Path with Cynthia Bourgeault 

For those eager to further their inner work, our 14-week online course Introductory Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault, March 4–June 9, will help you develop the skills, knowledge, and actions for your own transformation. Registration closes February 26, 2020

 

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. 

 

CONSPIRE 2020 Webcast 

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. 

 

 

 

Action & Contemplation

 
 

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.

 

 

An image of Richard Rohr speaking in his chair about the 2020 Daily Meditation Theme. The image links to a video.

 

Click here to learn about contemplative prayer and other forms of meditation. For frequently asked questions—such as what versions of the Bible Father Richard recommends or how to ensure you receive every meditation—please see our email FAQ. Visit cac.org to explore other ways to connect with the Center for Action and Contemplation.

 

 

 

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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 

 

 
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