Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation
Tending the Fire Within
Tending the Fire Within

A True Encounter

Friday, April 12, 2024

True encounter with Christ liberates something in us, a power we did not know we had, a hope, a capacity for life, a resilience, an ability to bounce back when we thought we were completely defeated, a capacity to grow and change, a power of creative transformation.
—Thomas Merton, He Is Risen 

Father Richard teaches that the essence of contemplative prayer is presence and love: 

Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It’s an encounter and a life stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, with awareness of the Presence, and even enjoying the Presence. Fully contemplative people are more than aware of Divine Presence; they trust, allow, and delight in it.  

The contemplative secret is learning to live in the now, which is not as empty as it might appear to be or that we fear it may be. Try to realize that everything is right here, right now and God is in this moment in a non-blaming way. When we’re able to experience that, taste and enjoy it, we don’t need to hold on to it.  

Because most of our moments are not tasted or in the Presence, we are never full. We create artificial fullness and want to hang on to that. But there’s nothing to hold on to when we begin to taste the fullness of now. God is either in this now  or God isn’t at all. If the now has never been sufficient, we’ll always be grasping. Here is a litmus test: if we’re pushing ourselves and others around, we haven’t yet found the secret of happiness. This moment is as full of the Divine Presence as it can be.  

The present moment has no competition; it’s not judged in comparison to any other. It has never happened before and will not happen again. But when I’m in competition, I’m not in love. I can’t get to love because I’m looking for a new way to dominate. The way we know this mind is not  the truth is that God does not deal with us like this. Mystics, those who really pray, know this. Those who enter deeply into the great mystery do not experience a God who compares, differentiates, and judges. They experience an all-embracing receptor, a receiver who recognizes the divine image in each and every individual. 

For Jesus, prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love. Returning to love. Trusting that love is the deepest stream of reality. That’s why prayer isn’t primarily words; it’s primarily an attitude, a stance. That’s why Paul could say, “Pray always; pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If we read that as requiring words, it’s surely impossible. We’ve got lots of other things to do. We can pray unceasingly, however, if we find the stream and know how to wade in its waters. The stream will flow through us; all we have to do is keep choosing to stay there. 

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999, 2003), 31, 60–61, 65–66, 81. 

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Untitled (detail), Washington, 2020, photo, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image. Within our deep and tender inside spaces there is a bright light to tend and care for.

Story from Our Community:  

I am new to this community and when I received my second Daily Meditations email, I felt prompted to tell some of my story. I realized that a community is a place of communion—not only about receiving but also giving. I have been experiencing a period of “stripping” which has meant great loss in every aspect of my life. This stripping is moving me to a place where I can stand still—in power. It’s nice to feel that I am not the only “mad” soul in this world. Be blessed for you are a blessing. —Laverne P. 

Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
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.