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Center for Action and Contemplation

Faith in Divine Presence

Friday, December 9, 2022

Contemplative activist and Episcopal priest Adam Bucko gained deeper faith and trust in God’s presence after facing limits of what he could do alone:

When I think of this Gospel passage [John 6:1–14, Jesus feeds 5,000], I often think of my time of working with homeless youth. I spent years building skills and . . . felt that I would become a capable professional armed with therapeutic skills and techniques that could fix people’s lives. Deep down, I really believed that I was there among the homeless fixing their lives. Until one day I realized that what I was doing was not really working. Kids were going through our programs and still ending up on the street. . . . They were still just one step from being hurt or even killed by a drug dealer or pimp. That is when I was forced to change. I started feeling helpless, and my confidence was shattered. All that I was left with was faith . . . [and] trust that I was where God was calling me to be.

As a result of the crisis I underwent, my work evolved from a highly praised, solution-oriented, and evidence-based practice into something much more intuitive. It really moved into prayer. And when I say prayer, I don’t necessarily mean that I was saying prayers with people. Instead, I started showing up for every person who needed my help in the same way that I was showing up for prayer. Gathering all my knowledge and tools and entrusting them to God. Saying to God, “I think you’re calling me to do something here. This is what I come with. I offer it to you. Take it. Change it. Make it useful. Because I feel so small and useless here.” I would just be there with homeless youth in a state of not knowing and trust. Paying attention to what was, bearing witness to their pain, helping them to hold their pain, and often breaking with them as a result of what I was witnessing. . . .

What I began discovering is that every time I allowed myself to feel at a loss in the face of the pain I witnessed, every time I touched my own irrelevance, there was this energy of God that would begin to emerge in our midst. All I had to do was say yes to it. The presence of God was there, always ready to pick up the broken pieces from the floor and re-assemble them into something good. . . . When that happened, I realized that my skills were not useless. I just needed to first surrender them to God, so God could use them however God wished. So right words could come. So right ways of being present could manifest. . . . It was often not clear who was helping whom. Because in each of those sacred moments I received just as much as I was giving, if not more.


Adam Bucko, Let Your Heartbreak Be Your Guide: Lessons in Engaged Contemplation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2022), 116–117.

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Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 09 (detail), United States, photograph, used with permission. Tory Hallenburg, Walking on Water (detail), 2018, United States, photograph, Unsplash. Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 10 (detail), 2022, United States, photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

Image inspiration: Venturing beyond the monochrome of certainty, we walk into water and on ground we cannot always see. Our ripples spread beyond ourselves into this movement of faith.

Story from Our Community:

I feel my world expanding every morning as I read the Daily Meditations. While I have always felt I had a spiritual interior relationship, I did not realize how narrow my experience and access to God really were. At 55, I find myself at peace and filled with joy at knowing how little I know and need to know. I am less aware of the boundaries that my early faith established and more aware of the interconnectedness of all humanity. —Coleen M.

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Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

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