Father Richard Rohr reminds us that when we receive everything as a gift, we can live gratefully, allowing the energies of life and love to flow through us to the benefit of the whole.
In Philippians 4:6–7, Paul sums up an entire theology of prayer practice in very concise form: “Pray with gratitude, and the peace of Christ, which is bigger than knowledge or understanding [that is, making distinctions—Richard], will guard both your mind and your heart in Christ Jesus.” Only a pre-existent attitude of gratitude, a deliberate choice of love over fear, a desire to be positive instead of negative, will allow us to live in the spacious place Paul describes as “the peace of Christ.”
It is important that we ask, seek, and knock to keep ourselves in right relationship with Life Itself. Life is a gift, totally given to us without cost, every day of it, and every part of it. A daily and chosen attitude of gratitude will keep our hands open to expect that life, allow that life, and receive that life at ever-deeper levels of satisfaction—but never to think we deserve it. Those who live with such open and humble hands receive life’s “gifts, full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into their lap” (Luke 6:38). In my experience, if we are not radically grateful every day, resentment always takes over. Moreover, to ask for “our daily bread” is to recognize that it is already being given. Not to ask is to take our own efforts, needs, and goals—and our selves—far too seriously. Consider if that is not true in your own life.
All the truly great persons I have ever met are characterized by what I would call radical humility and gratitude. They are deeply convinced that they are drawing from another source; they are instruments. Their genius is not their own; it is borrowed. We are moons, not suns, except in our ability to pass on the light. Our life is not our own; yet, at some level, enlightened people know that their life has been given to them as a sacred trust. They live in gratitude and confidence, and they try to let the flow continue through them. They know that “love is repaid by love alone,” as both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thérèse of Lisieux have said.
In the end, it is not our own doing, or grace would not be grace. It is God’s gift, not a reward for work well done. It is nothing for us to be boastful about. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus. All we can do is be what God’s Spirit makes us to be, and be thankful to God for the riches God has bestowed on us. Humility, gratitude, and loving service to others are probably the most appropriate responses we can make.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016), 281, 134;
Breathing under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2011, 2021), 61; and
Richard Rohr and Joseph Martos, The Great Themes of Scripture: New Testament (Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1988), 96–97.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on the humbling truth that our lives are not about us.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Aaron Burden, Untitled (detail), 2022, United States, photograph, Unsplash. Vidar Nordli-Mathisen, Laughing Nuns (detail), 2018, Italy, photograph, Unsplash. Aaron Burden, Untitled (detail), 2022, United States, photograph, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
Image inspiration: Thank you, Spirit, for life. Thank you for shared joy. Thank you for beauty. Amen.
Story from Our Community:
I recently had an experience that reminded me of our unseen contemplative community walking similar paths. I was walking on a new trail, a one-mile loop through thick woods. I saw many other walkers going the opposite direction—so many that I started to think that perhaps there was a rule or local custom of only walking clockwise. I was about to turn around, when I realized that there could be just as many walking in the same direction as me—ahead and behind. I immediately thought of CAC and all those reading the Daily Meditations together each morning. In leaving the narrow, dualistic teachings of my childhood, I often feel lonely when friends and family express their fear that I have left the fold and lost my salvation. Today, I want to express gratitude to all those traveling the contemplative journey, unseen yet together. —Sally L.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.