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Center for Action and Contemplation
The Prophetic Path
The Prophetic Path

A Liberating Path

Friday, January 6, 2023

Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev is an author and teacher who has thought deeply about the liberating and healing path of the prophets. He writes:

In the prophetic worldview, God supports falling forward, mistake-ridden risk-taking, and boundary crossing for the sake of growth in consciousness and relationship. The prophets perceive God as energizing this journey, animating all life forms to bring forth new ways, to explore new relationships. The prophets also teach that God offers forgiveness to the people when their adventure goes off track, when they behave in ways that betray their friendship with their fellow humans and with God. The God of the prophets continually calls a wayward people to return to right relationship that they might be healed of the consequences of their mistakes: “Assuredly, thus says the Living Presence: If you return, then I will bring you back, and you shall stand before me, and if you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth” (Jeremiah 15:19).

The prophetic stream supports learning, the evolution of life toward greater consciousness, and every movement toward justice and communal well-being. At the same time, the prophetic stream offers healing waters when we become aware of our mistakes, cleansing waters that enable us to learn from our mistakes and to move forward.… All we need to perceive is the direction of the journey—toward mutual relationship—and the next step in that direction.…

The prophets, both ancient and modern, have helped me to learn to walk toward liberation. Even with their help my stride is challenged and unsure. Their example, though, has given me, and can give all of us, the courage to take risks and honor mistakes as we struggle to learn our way forward. With this learning we can take the next step on the liberating path. [1]

For theologian and Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio, contemplation uniquely allows us to embark on such a transforming journey.

To paraphrase Steve Jobs [1955–2011], it is the crazy ones who think they can change the world, the round pegs in the square holes, who actually do so because they see things differently. If you see what does not yet exist, and you act according to what you see, you will likely be seen as a little crazy, out of center, a misfit or rebel. But if you stay true to what you see because the power of God is the light of your vision, then you will change the world because you yourself will be changed. You will usher in a new reality by your own transformed being-in-love. This, I believe, is the heart of Christian discipleship.

In sum, contemplative vision is the heart of the Christian life by which we are brought into a new reality, connected through the heart to the whole of life, attuned to the deeper intelligence of nature, and called forth irresistibly by the Spirit to creatively express our gifts in the evolution of self and world. [2]


[1] Nahum Ward-Lev, The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets: Then and Now (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019), 140, 144.

[2] Ilia Delio, The Hours of the Universe: Reflections on God, Science, and the Human Journey (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2021), 167.

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Untitled Bosque (detail), New Mexico, photograph, used with permission. Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 10 (detail), New Mexico, photograph, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.  

Image inspiration: This year’s images are inspired in form by the 2023 Daily Meditation theme. This week’s main photo takes up most of the image, but we also see a sliver of the image for next week: the next step on our journey.  

Story from Our Community:

I have always had a hyperactive mind that insists on questioning conventional wisdom—not because I believe it’s wrong, but because I’ve always felt it’s important to ask: “Doggone it, how do we KNOW it’s true?” Whenever I voice these concerns, I seem to get a lot of blank stares in response. This is, I’ve found, a lonely way to live. So, when I read Richard’s quote on prophets, I felt seen and deeply nourished: “What everybody is saying, whatever the glib agreement is, prophets say, ‘it’s not true.’” Now, I wouldn’t call myself a prophet, but in those words, I hear that I’m not alone, that there’s a whole class of people who think along the same lines. Those words make me feel encouraged and sustain my deepest self. Thank you. —John B.


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In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.