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Center for Action and Contemplation
Encountering Reality
Encountering Reality

Facing Reality to Awaken Ourselves

Friday, March 15, 2024

Father Richard reminds us of our deepest Reality in God, which we cannot access except by facing our lived realities.

Both God’s truest identity and our own True Self are Love. So why isn’t it obvious? How do we find what is supposedly already there? Why should we need to awaken our deepest and most profound selves? How do we do it? By praying and meditating? By more silence, solitude, and sacraments? Yes to all of the above, but the most important way is to live and fully acknowledge our present reality. This solution sounds so simple that most of us fabricate all kinds of religious trappings to avoid taking up our own inglorious, mundane, and ever-present cross of the present moment.

As James Finley says, “The greatest teacher of God’s presence in our life is our life.” For some reason, it is easier to attend church services than quite simply to reverence the Real—the “practice of the presence of God,” as some saints have called it. Making this commitment doesn’t demand a lot of dogmatic wrangling or managerial support, just vigilance, desire, and willingness to begin again and again. 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. That’s why many run toward more esoteric and dramatic postures instead of bearing the mystery of God’s suffering and God’s joy inside themselves. But the edges of our lives—fully experienced, suffered, and enjoyed—lead us back to the center and the essence, which is Love.

We do not find our own center; it finds us. Our own mind will not be able to figure it out. We collapse back into the Truth only when we are spiritually naked and free—which is probably not very often. We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking. In other words, our journeys around and through our realities lead us to the core Reality, where we meet both our truest self and our truest God. We do not really know what it means to be human unless we know God. And, in turn, we do not really know God except through our own broken and rejoicing humanity.

In Jesus, God reveals to us that God is not different from humanity. Thus, Jesus’ most common and almost exclusive self-name is “The Human One” or “Son of Humanity.” He uses the term dozens of times in the four Gospels. Jesus’ reality, his cross, is to say a free “yes” to what his humanity daily asks of him. It seems we Christians have been worshiping Jesus’ journey instead of doing his journey. The worshiping feels very religious; the latter just feels human and ordinary. We are not human beings on a journey toward Spirit; we are already spiritual beings on a journey toward becoming fully human, which for some reason seems harder—precisely because it is so ordinary.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1999, 2003), 17–18, 19–20.

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?

Story from Our Community:  

My heart sang at the use of “them” to refer to God in a recent meditation. I find that pronoun to be so much more resounding than the “he,” or “she” which I have used many times, reference to God. It sounds bigger, more inclusive, and so appropriate for this time in history. Thank you for using it and explaining it for those who may have been surprised by its use. My family is painfully divided over ways to see and teach Christ’s work today. Your work supports my ministry as I seek to love and teach love in these contentious and dangerous times. —Elizabeth K.

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