Richard writes that “everything belongs” when we loosen our ego’s grip and allow ourselves to receive and dwell in the present moment:
At the level of contemplative consciousness, we move beyond dualistic, either/or thinking. At this point, life and death, goodness and badness are not opposites. The one does not cancel out the other. There is enough spaciousness for everything to belong, a return to an elemental innocence, some kind of radical “okayness.” Our dualistic, logical minds keep coming to offer us the satanic temptation to eat again of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but this time we refuse.
It is only the first level of consciousness that needs that kind of security system and explanation for everything. That is what it means to be like God: I will be the decider. So many Christians are absolutely sure they know who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. What a strange and horrible comfort that must be! Why would anything except the tiny mind want that? The great mind hands that back to where it belongs, with the only mind where everything does belong—which is, of course, the mind of God.
Every bit of resistance to this contemplative consciousness comes from some previous mental explanation of how things should be, or what we want or expect them to be. If we start our day with ten expectations, we have just set ourselves up for an unhappy day. When we live out of our minds, it just creates expectations and reasons to be disappointed. Don’t do that! We’ve got to choose God here, in this moment, and whatever happens, happens. I don’t care how crowded or late the bus is or even if it breaks down three times. It’s okay. We don’t always succeed at this, but when we do, we know that everything belongs. We know that God can use even this and that maybe the experience really was all right.
It seems that simply allowing ourselves to be here, to recognize the sacrament and the grace of the present moment, is enough to allow God’s loving gaze to happen. What we are doing in the allowing is returning the gaze. That’s it. We are completing the circuit and saying it’s okay.
I am not advocating for some kind of cheap universalism. We don’t want to become people who glibly say “everything belongs” in the face of suffering and injustice. I hope you don’t hear me saying that. It might sound like I am contradicting myself, and our calculating minds may be saying, “Come on. It can’t be that simple.” I think that is why the diabolical, beguiling mind keeps confusing us and trapping us in head trips, instead of surrendering to the naked now that God always inhabits. This is the place where the incarnation is always taking place, and where God is mysteriously present in every moment, perfectly hidden and at the same time perfectly revealed.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, How Do We Get Everything to Belong? (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2004). Available as MP3 download.
Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Field Study 2, oil pastel on canvas. Izzy Spitz, Everything at Once, digital oil pastel. Izzy Spitz, Wings, digital oil pastel. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
Everything belongs: our messes and dreams, our hues of green and yellow, our curves and lines.
Story from Our Community:
I loved Brian McClaren’s story about the two nuns and their faith. My brother always says I am a “Supermarket Catholic” who picks and chooses what I believe in and if I belong to a club I should follow its rules. I tell him I hold all things in tension, life has many paradoxes and that God gave me a brain to try and figure things out. I stay and try to bring change where possible. I can now tell him I stay being a Catholic defiantly, while being as compliant as I am able to be with authenticity. —Elspeth O.