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Mending the Breach
Mending the Breach

Faith Mends the Breach

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Father Richard has long wrestled with what it means to be a person of faith:

I am wondering if I have ever understood faith—or if I want it now that I am getting the point.

Now I know that faith is not believing-certain-ideas-all-evidence-to-the-contrary. It is not dogged loyalty to childhood conditioning or pledges of allegiance to sacred formulas and official explanations. It is surely not the addictive repetition of rituals or practices that keep God under control. These approaches give the ego comfort, but they give little comfort to truth, and even less to the scary and wonderful coming of the Reign of God.

People of real faith seem able to hold increasing amounts of chaos in one tranquil and ordered life. Faith seems to make people spacious, non-controlling, and waiting in awareness. The faith Jesus praises as salvation (and sufficient in lepers, Samaritans, and those outside the temple system) is something very different than religion as such. It is a capacity within people to contain and receive all things, to hold onto nothing, with almost no need to fear or judge rashly. Faith-filled people find it unnecessary to secure themselves because they are secure at a deeper level; there is room for Another in that spacious place.

Because people of faith are comfortable with the totality, they’re able to hold disparate parts together, make the peace, or “mend the breach.” The recurring temptation is to separate, analyze, and judge the parts, which gives us a sense of control and “understanding.” Faith, driven by love, enables us to give up our need to understand, allows us to let go, and for Someone else to hold us together. It’s not a giving up as much as it is an opening up and refusing to close back down for the sake of self-sufficiency and mastery. If this is indeed the character of faith for postmodern people, or any people, then I finally know why faith is so rare and why Jesus himself wondered if he would find very much on this earth (Luke 18:8). 

Today, there seems to be a breach in almost every wall. The “cosmic egg” that seemed to hold us together for a long time is now broken. We now find ourselves engaged in culture wars on almost every personal and social issue. Most of us are beyond being shocked by anything. We are often sad, discouraged, even alienated from the only world we live in. We yearn for breach-menders who can restore our ruined houses, (see Isaiah 58:12). We long for great-souled people who can hold the chaos together within themselves—and give us the courage to do the same. [1]

I pray all of us know such people in our lives and that we be granted such people on the world stage. I am confident such people have gone before and paved the way for us—the mystics and saints of all genders, cultures, and faith traditions, those both known and unknown. [2]


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Mending the Breach,” Tikkun 22, no. 3 (May/June 2007): 28–29. Earlier version in Radical Grace 5, no. 6 (Dec. 1992/Jan. 1993): 1–2.

[2] Richard Rohr, “What the Mystics Know,” Daily Meditations, October 23, 2020.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Alma Thomas, Snoopy—Early Sun Display on Earth (detail), 1970, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian. Alma Thomas, Snow Reflection on Pond (detail), 1973, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian. Loïs Mailou Jones, Jeune Fille Français (detail), 1951, oil on canvas, Smithsonian. Click here to enlarge image.

We accept the breach as an invitation to repair: piece by piece, thread by thread, we heal together.

Story from Our Community:  

We have the most beautiful pine tree in our front yard. She is old, tall, and magnificent. Three years ago, my 24-year-old son passed away. Amidst the deepest grief, I felt drawn to lay down under that tree and gaze through her branches at the beautiful blue sky. Somehow, when I did this, I felt peace and healing. In some strange way, I believe that that tree called me so she could heal me. I feel very connected to her to this day. And at the same time, I feel very connected to God when I am with her.
—Dolores C.

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