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Center for Action and Contemplation

A Team Effort: Behind the Scenes

Managing Editor Mark Longhurst reveals how the Daily Meditations are created — from an idea to your inbox.

In early fall each year, I facilitate a “Daily Meditations” theme workshop with CAC staff and faculty. We ask our faculty to reflect on something they have been spiritually ruminating about that feels relevant and important. The staff will then move through a discernment process, discussing what is arising for the faculty, alongside the themes that are on our hearts, and the insights we have heard from our dedicated readers. This is how we choose our annual theme. 

Exploring Richard’s Wide Body of Work

After the workshop, I will synthesize a list of topics into fifty-two weekly possibilities and review them with Richard or another member of our faculty. These become the themes that readers receive in their inboxes each week — like Shadow Work, Pilgrimage, Prophetic Truth, or Restorative Justice. An important part of this part of the work is establishing a thematic “Richard through-line” that is grounded in his teachings and lineage.

Once this list is approved, the editorial team begins to build out the year’s meditations. We first turn to any relevant material from Richard’s vast body of published and recorded work—anything that ties into the theme. This is where my theological nerd-factor and all those years I spent listening to Richard’s CDs on repeat come in handy. For example, for a week on “The Holiness of Human Sexuality,” we revisited his 1991 talks called Gate of the Temple: Spirituality and Sexuality, as well as reflections Richard collected in the book of that same year, Near Occasions of Grace. Though we tend to draw from more recent works such as The Universal Christ, we love to surprise readers with familiar blasts from the past when we can, quoting from a classic conference such as Healing Our Violence with Richard and Centering Prayer co-founder Thomas Keating. We also glance at previous year’s topics to avoid repetition: have we published a week on the True Self lately? If so, how about Spirituality and the Twelve Steps instead? 

Broadening Our Perspective

Having established the “Richard through-line” for the week, I encourage the editorial team to broaden our perspective: how can we focus not only on Richard’s work itself, but also on the work of the entire CAC faculty and the mystical traditions that have inspired each of them? Mystics such as Francis and Clare of Assisi, along with Julian of Norwich, are always favorites, but we also take inspiration from, say, Brian McLaren’s Do I Stay Christian?, Barbara Holmes’s Crisis Contemplation, and the latest podcast season of James Finley’s Turning to the Mystics. Finally, we ask, “what voices are not included?” We focus team research on voices that have been historically marginalized from the Christian and contemplative traditions.

After a week’s worth of meditations are drafted, they move through the editing process, from checking primary source citations to placing the content in our digital platforms. The work of Richard and the CAC faculty has truly changed my life. Now, after years of reading, studying, and experiencing the impact of their teachings, I have the profound joy of managing a dynamic team to share them with the world.

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