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Center for Action and Contemplation
Crisis Contemplation
Crisis Contemplation

God is Right Here

Friday, July 30, 2021

Crisis Contemplation

God is Right Here
Friday, July 30, 2021

God is not out only “out there.” This week’s meditations have explored how God is radically “right here,” even in times of crisis. Just as it was hard to see the divine image in Jesus, it is hard to see it in ordinary people like ourselves. This insight really hit me the first time I was on retreat in Merton’s Kentucky hermitage. One of the ex-abbots had been a recluse, a hermit’s hermit, for years. The recluses come into the community only for Christmas and Easter. The rest of the time they stay in the forest alone with God and themselves.

I was going down a little trail from my hermitage, and I saw him coming toward me. I recognized him since I knew him from years before. I felt it was not my place to intrude on his privacy or silence, so I bowed my head, moved to the side of the path and was going to walk past him. When I was about four feet from him, he said, “Richard!” That surprised me. He was supposed to be a recluse. How did he know I was there? . . . He said, “Richard, you get chances to preach and I don’t. When you’re out there preaching, just tell the people one thing. God is not ‘out there.’ (And he pointed to the sky.) God bless you.” And he went on down the road. [1]

I have no doubt that the recluse I encountered so many decades ago was a mystic, someone who had encountered the Implanted Spirit within himself. This is the “putting together” that Jesus encouraged us all to do, particularly through his healing ministry when he repeatedly proclaimed, “Your faith has saved you, now go in peace!” (Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:34; Luke 8:48). My colleague Barbara Holmes understands mysticism as the “putting together” of our own divided lives, providing hope for oppressed people and people everywhere and of all times. She calls it “cosmic rebirthing”:

Cosmic rebirthing requires a reclamation of everyday mysticism. . . . I was born into a family of shamans, root workers, and healers. These women and men saw beyond the veil and mediated the realms of life after life. They knew how to cure you of what ailed you, spiritually and in the natural world. The mystics that I knew could get a prayer through, birth a baby, and bring you a message or warning from the other side. They were amazing and sometimes a little bit scary. . . .

Mysticism reminds us that the boundaries between this life and the life beyond are permeable, and that our power is not seeded in what is bestowed by politicians and society, but to everyone willing and ready to recognize the moves of an active Holy Spirit. . . . By being receptive to the things that we don’t understand, we fling open the center of our being to the mysteries of the Divine. [2]

[1] Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, rev. ed. (Crossroad: 1999, 2003), 117, 118.

[2] Barbara A. Holmes, Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Global Village (CAC Publishing: 2021), 133, 134.

Story from Our Community:
In the early 1990s I met myself in a very elaborate lucid dream. Upon shaking my hand, I said, “I Am You.” I woke knowing that my personal identity is identical to everyone else’s. What if oneness means “I Am You”? The “I” with which God sees me is the same “I” with which “I” look for God. This is the mysticism of love of neighbor. From that dream on I treated my wife, family, friends, and patients as if “I Am You,” and learned that our core self-interests were as identical as our identity. —Roger K.

Image credit: Oliver, River Steps (detail), 2014, photograph, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.
Image inspiration: Water on stairs brings up questions that the angle of this photo cannot answer. Are these waters rising or receding? We are navigating in this place of tension, in the eye of the hurricane, unsure if where we stand will flood. Water and Stone: Where is safety? Where is danger?
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