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Center for Action and Contemplation
Engaging with a World on Fire
Engaging with a World on Fire

Engaging with a World on Fire: Weekly Summary

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Every day Jesus would follow the same rhythm: withdraw for solitude, but then come back to engage by healing, feeding, caring, welcoming, binding up the wounds of this world, and implanting in people a vision of resilience, engaging with a world on fire.
—Brian McLaren

Amidst this time of planetary change and disruption, the CAC envisions a movement of transformed people working together for a transformed world.
—Richard Rohr

We must allow our imaginations to begin to live within the world that responsible science is telling us will be our fate unless drastic changes are made soon. We must do this so that we can acknowledge where our hope really resides—not with us, but in the power of love and renewal that lives within the universe, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God.
—Sallie McFague

We’re on a quest to find out how to have an engaged expression of deep spiritual life that makes a difference in a world on fire.
—Brian McLaren

We need regular quiet time with God in order to have the strength, courage, and vitality required for social action: for moving against injustices, speaking truth to power, and assisting in humanitarian efforts.
—Lerita Coleman Brown

God offers us quiet, contemplative eyes; God also calls us to prophetic and critical involvement in the pain and sufferings of our world—both at the same time. This is so obvious in the life and ministry of Jesus that I wonder why it has not been taught as an essential part of Christianity.
—Richard Rohr

Week Two Practice

Reclaiming Our Attention

Buddhist teacher Oren Jay Sofer considers how we engage with the world’s suffering:

How do we meet our challenges and choose wisely? To truly meet something is to encounter it with awareness, enter into relationship with it, and respond appropriately. How do we respond when we contact pain, sorrow, and injustice? Do we become broken, embittered, lost, or frozen? Do we lash out in anger, fear, or hatred, adding fuel to the fire? Or are we able to find the balance and clarity to meet the suffering of our world with tenderness, wisdom, and skillful action?

Sofer recommends beginning with the grounding practice of attention.

Unraveling the hurt we carry and finding our place in a world on fire start wherever we are. Directing attention begins to train the heart. Like a green shoot breaking through concrete, attention cracks the façade of the past so we are not prisoners of our habits or the programming of culture.…

Contemplative practice is one powerful way to reclaim attention. Rest your attention with an anchor, a home base for meditation such as the breath, a sensation, an image, a sound, or a mantra. An anchor is a primary meditation object to help steady your attention and limit mind-wandering, like an anchor for a ship.… This mental action—recognizing that attention has wandered and then consciously redirecting it—strengthens your capacity to pay attention and develops a host of other skillful qualities, including patience, kindness, and concentration.…

The more you cultivate this quality of attention, the more you build inner resources. I am not encouraging you to avoid the painful realities of life and look only at what’s uplifting. The idea here is to strengthen your capacity to choose what you attend to. Then—when you turn to face pain, distress, and hardship—instead of feeling helpless or demoralized, you will have more energy, confidence, and clarity to meet the challenge.

Oren Jay Sofer, Your Heart Was Made for This: Contemplative Practices for Meeting a World in Crisis with Courage, Integrity, and Love (Boulder, CO: Shambala, 2023), 3, 16, 18.

Image credit: Evgeniy Alyoshin, Firefighters putting out a fire (detail), Ukraine, 2022, photograph, public domain. Click here to enlarge image.

What does it look like to engage with the catastrophic fires that sweep through our world without becoming frenzied or frozen?

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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.

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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.