Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation

Detachment: Weekly Summary

Saturday, April 29, 2023

All great spirituality is about letting go. It trains us in both detachment and attachment: detachment from the passing so we can attach to the substantial.
—Richard Rohr 

Every time we catch ourselves getting reactive, every time we catch ourselves acting as if the outcome of the situation has the authority to name who we are, we are to take a deep breath and remind ourself that it’s not true.
—James Finley 

Desert ascetics called this process of moving toward inner freedom detachment. Detachment allows for greater direct experience of the Divine Presence as the seeker is attached to fewer distractions.
—Laura Swan 

We have to be very careful not to become attached to the goal of becoming detached! We have to take a deep breath, and roll with the waves of the unfoldings of ourselves.  
—James Finley 

To any of us comfortable people, detachment sounds like losing, but it is actually about accessing a deeper, broader sense of the self, which is already whole, already content, already filled with abundant life.
—Richard Rohr 

Letting go means simply releasing the thoughts and ideas that our minds get in the habit of attaching themselves to, including the ideas of yesterday and tomorrow. Letting go is not hard or harsh. We should let it be easy and gradual.
—angel Kyodo williams 

Let Go and Return 

Writer and spiritual director Caroline Oakes perceives contemplative practice at the heart of Jesus’ rhythm of ministry. His example teaches us to detach from our judgments and expectations so that we can return to Divine presence:  

Gospel accounts show us that Jesus himself lived this contemplative, prayer-beyond-words, “inner room” practice as he often ventures out alone … sometimes being in prayer through the night…. 

The gospel writers’ first-century audience would immediately understand that Jesus was intentionally and consistently making time to be “in” the powerful and formative Divine Presence as a way to become aware of, and attune to, the movement of the Divine within and all around.… 

When we notice Jesus’ times of spiritual renewal interspersed as they are throughout the arc of his ministry—from his teaching, healing, and feeding of the four and five thousand followers, to his last words at the Last Supper, in Gethsemane, and on the cross—we begin to notice the definitive pattern in Jesus’ practice as a kind of flowing back-and-forth rhythm.  

There is a continual pausing to let go (what scholars call kenosis, or emptying) of egoic attachments, fear, judgment, or expectations and then a returning to the Divine Presence again and again.  

Let go.  


Let go.  

And the Divine is the one-pointed focus to which Jesus returns ceaselessly in this prayer rhythm of pause and release and return. This is Jesus’ formula for waking up—his formula for himself and for his followers.… It is Jesus’ practice for deepening the soul’s awareness of and attunement with our innermost essence, the Divine within.  


Caroline Oakes, Practice the Pause: Jesus’ Contemplative Practice, New Brain Science, and What It Means to Be Fully Human (Minneapolis, MN: Broadleaf Books, 2023), 33, 34. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Margi Ahearn, Exercise on Grief and Lamentation. McEl Chevrier, Untitled. CAC Staff, Untitled. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

On retreat, the CAC staff used watercolors to connect to our collective grief. This is one of the watercolor paintings that came from that exercise. 

Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.