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Beginning With Richard

Mark Longhurst, Managing Editor

To state the obvious, creating Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations always begins with Richard Rohr.  

In early fall each year, I facilitate a “Daily Meditations” theme workshop with Richard and a wide array of CAC staff. We ask Richard to speak to us about something on which he has been spiritually ruminating that feels relevant and important. This past year, for example, Richard amplified his analysis of systemic evil and his teaching on the apostle Paul’s matrix of “the world, the flesh, and the devil.” The staff then discuss what Richard said, alongside the themes that are on our hearts and the insights we have heard from our audience. This is how we choose our annual theme. 

Exploring Richard’s Wide Body of Work

After the workshop, I synthesize a list of topics into fifty-two weekly possibilities and review them with Richard. These become the themes that readers receive in their inboxes each week—like Shadow Work, Mystical Hope, Nature and the Cosmos, or Restorative Justice.  

Once Richard approves the final list, 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, in a recent 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 on the contemplative lineages that have inspired Richard? Francis and Clare of Assisi, along with Julian of Norwich, are always favorites, but we also quote from current teachers and voices, like CAC Teacher Barbara Holmes, or perhaps historical mystics like the early Christian desert mothers and fathers. Finally, we ask, “what voices are not included?” and 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, Richard reviews and edits them himself. He sends me back comments and the editing process unfolds: over to Judy for another read, to Therese for checking citations, to Vanessa for proofreading, and back to me for the final touches. Richard’s work has truly changed my life. Now, after years of reading, studying, and experiencing the impact of Richard’s teachings, I have the profound joy of managing a dynamic team to share them with the world.  

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