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Center for Action and Contemplation
Encountering Reality
Encountering Reality

Encountering Reality: Weekly Summary

Saturday, March 16, 2024

When we live inside the Really Real, we live in a “threshold space” between this world and the next. We learn how to live between heaven and earth, one foot in both, holding them precious together.
—Richard Rohr

People with a distorted image of self, world, or God will be largely incapable of experiencing what is Really Real in the world. They’ll see instead what they need reality to be. That’s the opposite of true contemplatives, who have an ability to see what is, whether that reality causes weeping or rejoicing.
—Richard Rohr

If we are to leave a beautiful world for you and your grandchildren, we have to take seriously the fact that creation does not belong to us; we are part of creation. We cannot do what we like with earth, water, and other human beings. God expects us to keep the earth in good condition.
—Mercy Oduyoye

For centuries, people of color have been invisibly bleeding on the floor of systemic oppression, gasping for breath, dying from the thirst of repression, and starving from the lack of recognition and dignity. They have been the “least of these” of whom Jesus spoke (Matthew 25:40). They challenge us all to be aware of their dignity. They demand that we face what we have become.
—Patrick Saint-Jean

We honor our stories, our pain, and the actual flesh-and-blood realities we live with. There is no bypassing reality, and there is no bypassing the bodies that have carried us in and through this reality. This is where we must begin.
—Aundi Kolber

Living and accepting our reality will not feel very spiritual. It will feel like we are on the edges rather than dealing with the essence. But the edges of our lives—fully experienced suffered, and enjoyed—lead us back to the center and the essence, which is Love.
—Richard Rohr

Week Eleven Practice

Reality: The Great Teacher

Father Richard offers a prayer to welcome reality, so we can experience the Reign of God, what he calls the Really Real.

Great religion seeks utter awareness and full consciousness, so that we can, in fact, receive all. Everything belongs and everything can be received. We don’t have to deny, dismiss, defy, or ignore. What is, is okay. What is, is the great teacher.

The purpose of prayer and religious seeking is to see the truth about reality, to know what is. And at the bottom of what is is always goodness. The foundation is always love.

Enlightenment is to recognize and touch the big mystery, the big pattern, the Big Real. Jesus called it the Reign of God; Buddha called it enlightenment. Philosophers might call it Truth. Many of us experience it as Foundational Love. Here is a mantra you might repeat throughout your day to remind yourself of this:

God’s life is living itself in me. I am aware of life living itself in me.

God’s love is living itself in me. I am aware of love living itself in me.

We cannot not live in the presence of God. This is not soft or sentimental spirituality; it ironically demands confidence that must be chosen many times and surrender that is always hard won.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1999, 2003), 54–55, 56–57.

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled (detail), New Mexico, 2023, photograph, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image. We learn from the coyote curiosity and exploration. We also learn curiosity about our own perception and projection onto another being: what is the first thing we think when we see a coyote?

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This year’s theme

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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.

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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.