October 23rd, 2016

Richard Rohr's Meditation-- Trinity. Week 3

Trinity: Week 3

Summary: Sunday, September 25-Friday, September 30, 2016

If the Father does not dominate the Son, and the Son does not dominate the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit does not dominate the Father or the Son, then there’s no domination in God. All divine power is shared power. (Sunday)

Trinitarian theology offers us perhaps the best foundation for interfaith dialogue and friendship we’ve ever had. (Monday)
If and when we can live a vulnerable life—the life we see mirrored in a God who is described as three persons perfectly handing themselves over, emptying themselves out, and then fully receiving what has been handed over—there will always be a centrifugal force flowing through, out, and beyond us. (Tuesday)

God has done only one constant thing since the beginning of time: God has always, forever, and without hesitation loved “the Son,” understood in this sense as creation, the material universe, you, and me. (Wednesday)

“[N]o despair of ours can alter the reality of things; or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.” —Thomas Merton (Thursday)

You can’t diminish God’s love for you. What you can do, however, is learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and celebrate it, accepting Trinity’s whirling invitation to join in the cosmic dance.  (Friday)

Practice: Ecstatic Dance
In order to fully participate in the sacred dance, our hearts, minds, and bodies must all be present and open. Too often in the Western world, the body is neglected or even denied. As a contemplative practice and way of learning how to embody Trinity’s flow, I invite you to actually dance—in the privacy of your home or with a group. (Tip: You might search for African dance or Five Rhythms gatherings near you.)

Here’s a simple practice you can do alone or with others. Choose a favorite or new piece of music—classical, folk, contemporary; anything that calls you to move!—and find a place in which you can listen and move uninhibitedly, barefooted if possible.

Allow your body to lead, following the invitation of the music. Let mind take a back seat and tune in to the sensations of each part of your body. There are no right or wrong moves. Just listen to the music, and your body will respond.

Feel your feet connect with the ground. Limbs and joints turn and bend as they will. Swing and sway head, shoulders, hips. Sink deep into your body—every part of it. Be your animal self.

Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale, in and out, receiving and letting go. Fill and empty your lungs again and again.
Dance until you are pleasantly tired and gradually slow your movements. Continue moving in smaller, gentler ways. Keep breathing deeply. Stretch each part of your body: legs, arms, back, toes, neck.

Finally, come to a seated position and rest in stillness for several minutes of silence.

Gateway to Silence:
Dance with Us.

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation
Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault, The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of Trinity (CD, DVD, and MP3 download)
Richard Rohr, What Difference Does Trinity Make? (MP3 download

Richard Rohr's Meditation--Simplicity

We discover simplicity in the silence of contemplative prayer.

Summary: Sunday, October 2-Friday, October 7, 2016

I believe that a kind of second simplicity is the very goal of mature adulthood and mature religion. (Sunday)

“This amazing simplification comes when we ‘center down,’ when life is lived with singleness of eye, from a holy Center where the breath and stillness of Eternity are heavy upon us and we are wholly yielded to [God].” —Thomas Kelly (Monday)

When you live in pure consciousness, letting the naked being of all of reality touch your own naked being, then you experience foundational participation. (Tuesday)

Franciscan prophecy is at its core “soft prophecy”—which is often the hardest of all! Rather than criticize and shame the evils of his time, St. Francis simply lived differently and let his lifestyle be his sermon. (Wednesday)

Francis and Clare’s agenda for justice was the most foundational and undercutting of all others: a very simple lifestyle outside the system of production and consumption (the real meaning of the vow of poverty), plus a conscious identification with the marginalized of society (the communion of saints pushed to its outer edge). (Thursday)

When Francis said, after kissing the leper, “I left the world,” he was saying that he was giving up on the usual payoffs, constraints, and rewards of business-as-usual and was choosing to live in the largest Kingdom of all. (Friday)

Practice: Living Simply

We discover simplicity in the silence of contemplative prayer. As we let go of thought and sensation, we reconnect with our Center, our source of abundance and enoughness. I invite you to consider ways beyond your contemplative practice in which you can live more simply. Quaker teacher Richard Foster suggests ten principles for expressing simplicity outwardly. [1] Here’s his list in my words:

Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status or prestige.
Learn the difference between a real need and an addiction. Then find support and accountability to regain “sobriety,” freedom from addiction.

Develop a habit of giving things away.

Avoid unnecessary and short-lived technological gadgets that promise to “save time.”

Enjoy things without owning them. For example, take advantage of public libraries and parks.

Nurture awe and appreciation for nature. Spend more time outdoors!

Get out—and stay out—of debt.

Use plain, honest speech. Say what you mean and keep your commitments.

Reject anything that oppresses others. For example, buy Fair Trade products.

Seek God’s kingdom of love and justice foremost. If anything distracts you from that purpose, let it go.

Gateway to Silence:
Live simply so that others may simply live.

[1] Inspired by Richard J. Foster, “The Discipline of Simplicity,” The Celebration of Discipline (Harper & Row: 1978), 78-8

Richard Rohr's Meditation--Nonviolence


Summary: Sunday, October 9-Friday, October 14, 2016

“Before you speak of peace, you must first have it in your heart.” —St. Francis of Assisi (Sunday)

We each carry a certain amount of pain from our very birth. If that pain is not healed and transformed, it actually increases as we grow older, and we transmit it to people around us. (Monday)

Jesus’ teachings seem to have been understood rather clearly during the first few hundred years after his death and resurrection. Values like nonparticipation in war, simple living, and love of enemies were common among his followers. (Tuesday)

Jesus was not changing the Father’s mind about us; he was changing our mind about God—and thus about one another. If God and Jesus are not hateful, violent, punishing, torturing, or vindictive, then our excuse for the same is forever taken away from us. (Wednesday)

Jesus became the sinned-against one to reveal the hidden nature of scapegoating. Jesus says from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Thursday)

Picture yourself before the crucified Jesus; recognize that he became what you fear: nakedness, exposure, vulnerability, and failure. . . . He became the crucified so we would stop crucifying. (Friday)

Practice: Boats on a River

Most people have never actually met themselves. At every moment, all our lives long, we identify with our thoughts, our self-image, or our feelings. We have to find a way to get behind this view of ourselves to discover the face we had before we were born. We must discover who we are in God, who we’ve always been—long before we did anything right or anything wrong. This is the first goal of contemplation.

Imagine you are sitting on the bank of a river. Boats and ships—thoughts, feelings, and sensations—are sailing past. While the stream flows by your inner eye, name each of these vessels. For example, one of the boats could be called “my anxiety about tomorrow.” Or along comes the ship “objections to my husband” or the boat “I don’t do that well.” Every judgment that you pass is one of those boats. Take the time to give each one of them a name, and then let them move on down the river.

This can be a difficult exercise because you’re used to jumping aboard the boats—your thoughts—immediately. As soon as you own a boat and identify with it, it picks up energy. This is a practice in un-possessing, detaching, letting go. With every idea, with every image that comes into your head, say, “No, I’m not that; I don’t need that; that’s not me.”

Sometimes, a boat turns around and heads back upstream to demand your attention again. Habitual thoughts are hard to not be hooked by. Sometimes you feel the need to torpedo your boats. But don’t attack them. Don’t hate them or condemn them. This is also an exercise in nonviolence. The point is to recognize your thoughts, which are not you, and to say, “That’s not necessary; I don’t need that.” But do it very amiably. If you learn to handle your own soul tenderly and lovingly, you’ll be able to carry this same loving wisdom out into the world.

Gateway to Silence:
Be peace.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004), 94-95.

Richard Rohr's Meditation--Path Of Descent

Path of Descent

Summary: Sunday, October 16-Friday, October 21, 2016

The pattern of down and up, loss and renewal, enslavement and liberation, exile and return, transformation through darkness and suffering is quite clear in the Hebrew Scriptures, and Jesus evidently sees himself as representing this pattern. (Sunday)

Rather than look for impressive apparitions or miracles, Jesus said we must go inside the belly of the whale for a while. Then and only then will we be spit up on a new shore and understand our call, our place, and our purpose. (Monday)

Jesus clearly taught the twelve disciples about surrender, the necessity of suffering, humility, servant leadership, and nonviolence. (Tuesday)

“In my case Pilgrim's Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.” —C. G. Jung (Wednesday)

We placed our focus on the heroic instead of the transformative, on achieving rather than serving. (Thursday)

A “crucified God” became the logo and central image of our Christian religion: a dying, bleeding, losing man. If that isn’t saying you win by losing, what is it going to take for us to get the message? (Friday)

Practice: Falling and Failing into Love

In many ways prayer—certainly contemplative prayer or meditation—is planned and organized failure. If you’re not prepared for failure, you’ll avoid prayer, and that’s what most people do. Prayer is typically not an experience of immediate union, satisfaction, or joy; in fact, quite the opposite. Usually you meet your own incapacity for and resistance to union. You encounter your thinking, judging, controlling, accusing, blaming, fearing mind. So why pray?

Julian of Norwich, my favorite mystic, uses the word “sin” to mean a state of separateness or disunion. She writes that you become aware of your state of resistance or separateness, and then when you try to sink into the experience of one-ing—Julian’s word for unitive consciousness—you realize you can’t get there by yourself. You can’t make it happen. You can’t make yourself one.
Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love suggests that only in the falling apart of your own foundation can you experience God as your total foundation and your real foundation. [1] Otherwise you keep creating your own foundation, by your own righteousness, by your own intelligent and holy thoughts. Julian describes this reality in terms of what God does: God reveals God’s-self as your authentic foundation.

What we’re doing in prayer is letting our self-made foundation crumble so that God’s foundation can be our reality. Prayer is a practice in failure that overcomes our resistance to union with Love. Let’s fall into and rest in that Love one more time. . . .

Gateway to Silence:

The way up is down.

[1] My encapsulation of Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 78.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, an unpublished talk, September 19, 2011.

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, The Path of Descent (CD, MP3 download)
Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go


"Vague belief and spiritual intuition became specific and concrete and personal in Jesus—with a “face” that we could “hear, see, and touch” (1 John 1:1). The formless now had a personal form, according to Christian belief.

But it seems we so fell in love with this personal interface with Jesus that we forgot about the Eternal Christ, the Body of God, which is all of creation, which is really the “First Bible.” Jesus and Christ are not exactly the same. In the early Christian era, only a few Eastern Fathers (such as Origen of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor) cared to notice that the Christ was clearly historically older, larger, and different than Jesus himself. They mystically saw that Jesus is the union of human and divine in space and time, and the Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit from the beginning of time."   Richard Rohr, O.F.M.

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