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Center for Action and Contemplation

Action and Contemplation: Week 2 Summary

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Action and Contemplation: Week 2

Summary: Sunday, May 15-Friday, May 20, 2016

Moses takes spirituality and social engagement together from the very beginning. As Moses hides his face from the burning bush, God commissions him to confront the pharaoh of Egypt and tell him to stop oppressing the enslaved Hebrews. (Sunday)

“To be fully human is to be recreated in the image of Christ’s humanity; and that humanity is the perfect human ‘translation’ of the relationship of the eternal Son to the eternal Father, a relationship of loving and adoring self-giving, a pouring out of life towards the Other.” —Rowan Williams (Monday)

“To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.” —Rowan Williams (Tuesday)

In the big consciousness, we know things by participation with them, which is love. (Wednesday)

“[The original disciples] grow into an understanding of this God of love, this God of compassion, this God who loves justice, this God who makes all things new, by participating as active observers and agents of compassion, justice, and newness.” —Jack Jezreel (Thursday)

“I think this parable [of Lazarus and the rich man] shows us we have a pattern in our culture that teaches us to insulate ourselves from suffering, to build up gates and walls and border fences that separate us from those who are suffering right outside of our comfort.” —Shane Claiborne (Friday)


Practice: Yes

All prayer is seconding the motion. God is the initial motion, the initiative. In contemplation, we become aware of God’s movement and surrender to it. We begin with “yes,” ready to receive reality just as it is and ready to let it teach us. Contemplation teaches us how to say “yes”—yes to the moment, yes to the event, yes to the relationship. It is what it is before you analyze it, compare it to something else, or prefer it to something else. It takes much of your life to learn how to always begin with yes. I warn you that if you begin with no—which culture by and large trains us to do because the ego prefers the negative—it’s very hard to get back to yes.

Saying “yes” to the moment allows space for the real question, which is “What does this have to say to me?” Those who are totally converted come to every experience and ask not whether they like it, but what does it have to teach them. “What’s the message or gift in this for me? How is God in this event? Where is God in this suffering? What is God calling me to do?”

As you practice contemplation—in whatever form you choose—intentionally say yes to God’s presence and leading. Outside your times of contemplation, stay in this posture of willingness and openness. Let the hard, consequential questions of our world’s suffering stir your love into action. Discover and say yes to your unique way of participating in God’s love and healing, which is already working in every life, in every place, and simply asks for you to join.

Gateway to Silence:

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, CAC Foundation Set: Gospel Call for Compassionate Action and Contemplative Prayer (CD, MP3 download)
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
Richard Rohr and Shane Claiborne, When Action Meets Contemplation (MP3 download)

Image Credit: Soup Kitchen (detail) photograph by GeoffS.
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