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Crisis Contemplation
Crisis Contemplation

Crisis Contemplation: Weekly Summary and Stillness Practice

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Crisis Contemplation

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Week Thirty Summary and Practice

Sunday, July 25—Friday, July 30, 2021

Living in a transitional age such as ours is scary: things are falling apart, the future is unknowable, so much doesn’t cohere or make sense. Our uncertainty is the doorway into mystery, the doorway into surrender, the path to God that Jesus called “faith.”

When the ordinary isn’t ordinary anymore and the crisis is upon us, the self can center in this refuge that I am calling “crisis contemplation,” a space that is neither the result of spiritual seeking nor the voluntary entry into meditative spaces. —Barbara Holmes

Ultimately, we can trust the leading of the Holy Spirit as it guides us toward mutual care and love of God, neighbors, and creation. —Barbara Holmes

It takes great trust and patience to remain stunned, sad, and silenced by the tragedy and absurdity of human events.

In the face of horrors visited upon our world daily, in the struggle to protect our loved ones, choosing to let in joy is a revolutionary act. —Valarie Kaur

Mysticism reminds us that the boundaries between this life and the life beyond are permeable, and that our power is not seeded in what is bestowed by politicians and society, but to everyone willing and ready to recognize the moves of an active Holy Spirit. —Barbara Holmes



Each day at the CAC we begin our morning sit by repeating a line from Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” With each repetition, we drop a word from the verse until we finally say only “Be,” before entering the silence together. It is a reminder that no matter how we arrive that day, we are called to be, and be still, before God. Barbara Holmes affirms that stillness is important for all who want to transform their pain instead of transmit it: “Stillness is a state of wholeness, an antidote to the fragmentation of BIPOC people that comes with marginalization. . . . Sitting in stillness may allow the pieces of us to reassemble.” [1]

Meditation teacher Eckhart Tolle offers this insight:

Silence is helpful, but you don’t need it in order to find stillness. Even when there is noise, you can be aware of the stillness underneath the noise, of the space in which the noise arises. That is the inner space of pure awareness, consciousness itself. . . .

We have forgotten what rocks, plants, and animals still know. We have forgotten how to be—to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: Here and Now.

Whenever you bring your attention to anything natural, anything that has come into existence without human intervention, you step out of the prison of conceptualized thinking and, to some extent, participate in the state of connectedness with Being in which everything natural still exists.

To bring your attention to a stone, a tree, or an animal does not mean to think about it, but simply to perceive it, to hold it in your awareness.

Something of its essence then transmits itself to you. You can sense how still it is, and in doing so the same stillness arises within you. You sense how deeply it rests in Being—completely at one with what it is and where it is. In realizing this, you too come to a place of rest deep within yourself. [2]

Let us come to this place of rest, whether we are in crisis or at peace. If we keep breathing consciously, in connection with all that surrounds us, we will know that we are connected to all of humanity from cave dwellers to cosmonauts, to the entire animal world, and even to the trees and plants. As Barbara Holmes often reminds us, even the atoms we breathe are physically the same as the stardust from the Big Bang. Oneness is no longer experienced as merely a vague mystical notion, but rooted in scientific and embodied fact. [3]

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.


[1] Barbara A. Holmes, Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Global Village (CAC Publishing: 2021), 56.

[2] Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks (New World Library: 2003), 22, 77–78.

[3] Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (Crossroad: 2009), 26.

Image credit: Oliver, River Steps (detail), 2014, photograph, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.
Image inspiration: Water on stairs brings up questions that the angle of this photo cannot answer. Are these waters rising or receding? We are navigating in this place of tension, in the eye of the hurricane, unsure if where we stand will flood. Water and Stone: Where is safety? Where is danger?
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