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Holding the Tension
Holding the Tension

Holding the Tension: Weekly Summary

Saturday, January 20, 2024

I am talking about just holding the tension, not necessarily finding a resolution or closure to paradox. We must agree to live without resolution, at least for a while. I think opening to this holding pattern is the very name and description of faith.
Richard Rohr

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with.
—Martin Luther King Jr.

Remember that we are braced by a God who is too big for one-dimensional truths, and this is a good thing. It’s not that we hold paradox; it’s that paradox holds us. We are held in a deep place. An ample place. A generous place. Though we might fear paradox, God does not.
—Debie Thomas

Reality is paradoxical. If we’re honest, everything is a clash of contradictions, and there is nothing on this created earth that is not a mixture at the same time of good and bad, helpful and unhelpful, endearing and maddening, living and dying.
—Richard Rohr

It’s a strange affair to be Black and live in America, and even stranger to be Black and a person of faith in these yet-to-be-United States, to carry around the burden of a socially constructed idea called race and yet be filled with a divinely inspired mandate to eradicate all limitations to the human soul.
—Otis Moss III

The times when we meet or reckon with our contradictions are often turning points, opportunities to enter into the deeper mystery of God.
—Richard Rohr

Week Three Practice

Prayer: For Beauty in the Mundane

In Cole Arthur Riley’s book Black Liturgies, she prays for our capacity to hold together the extraordinary and the ordinary:

God of every beautiful thing,

Make us people of wonder. Show us how to hold on to nuance and vision when our souls become addicted to pain, to the unlovely. It is far easier to see the gloom and decay; so often it sings a louder song. Attune our hearts to the good still stirring in our midst, not that we would give ourselves to toxic positivity or neglect the pain of the world, but that we would be people capable of existing in the tension. Grant us habits of sacred pause. Let us marvel not just at the grand or majestic, but beauty’s name etched into every ordinary moment. Let the mundane swell with a mystery that makes us breathe deeper still. And by this, may we be sustained and kept from despair. Amen.

Cole Arthur Riley, Black Liturgies: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Staying Human (New York: Convergent Books, 2024), 35.

Image credit: Oliver Hotakainen, Untitled (detail), Finland, 2021, photograph, public domain. Click here to enlarge image.

How do we keep fire afloat on water? How do we act for justice and stay humble and listening?

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