Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation
A Benevolent Universe
A Benevolent Universe

Love Does No Harm

Friday, December 16, 2022

Theologian Karen Baker-Fletcher speaks to paradox—the goodness of God and creation do not cause us to avoid suffering in our world and daily life, but to seek to love even more:

How can there be so much joy, pleasure and beauty in life? How can there be so much pain, hurt, suffering, and death? Why and how have these things come to pass? What is God’s intention for human life and for the rest of creation? Doesn’t God will something more for us—a love that does no harm? Doesn’t God will for us a compassionate and caring love, rather than a false love that strips humanity and creation of dignity? Can we experience such love in this life? Or do we have to wait until the hereafter—life after death? These are questions about the kingdom of God. They have to do with God’s intention for the reign of God. They make us consider our own responsibility as participants in God’s activity of a love that does no harm in the here and now, whether we are straight or gay, men or women, children or adults, laity or clergy. . . .

This life is good, valuable, and worth living. Hope is not only in the future. Hope is in the present.

From a womanist perspective, the reign of God does not have to do with a far-off, abstract, otherworldly, alien, and alienated place. To the contrary, the promise of the fulfillment of the Spirit’s healing, creating presence on earth is woven together with apocalyptic hope in the midst of the daily work and struggles of life. The reign of the Spirit is an ever-present reality. The hereafter is in the here and now. We live into it in our everyday acts. God moves as the strength of life, present in history and creation. God as the strength of life is the power of life. Given such power, whom should we fear? That which is the very strength of life transforms fear into faith, salvation, and hope. It means that we do not have to accept injustice and abuse while we wait for some better, eternal life in a world beyond the present. We can live into a love that is eternal and does no harm in the here and now. [1]

Father Richard invites us to trust the Inherent Goodness of the universe:

The goal of the spiritual journey is to discover and move toward connectedness on ever new levels. Of course, we won’t become vulnerable enough to connect unless we learn to trust over and over again. We must ask ourselves, “Is the universe a friendly place or not?” The spiritual experience is about trusting that when we stop holding ourselves, Inherent Goodness will still uphold us. Many of us call that God, but it isn’t necessary. It is the trusting that is important. When we fall into such Primal Love, we realize that everything is foundationally okay. [2]


[1] Karen Baker-Fletcher, Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit: Womanist Wordings on God and Creation (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), 117–118, 120–121.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, selected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 104–105.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled – Sandia Mountains (detail), 2022, photograph, Albuquerque, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge photo.

Image Inspiration: when i began photographing birds during the pandemic it was meant to fuel a creative need. as i continued it began to fuel a life need, a missing connection to nature. i not only felt a need to see different birds but to see the change in nature around me. a connection to my own heritage – wondering again and again if my ancestors roamed the same fields, came across the same animals or took meditation in the same plots. —Benjamin Yazza (photographer), Albuquerque, New Mexico

Story from Our Community:

I was so moved by the Daily Meditations post “Luminous Darkness.” I can, at long last, find words to express the wisdom that has been at the center of my life since I was 5 years old: “Mystics experience a full-bodied embrace and acceptance by Divine Love, and then spend their lives trying to verbalize and embody it.” At a young age, I experienced God’s love in such a profound way that I knew the only way I could reciprocate was by becoming a priest. For a woman in the Catholic Church, that was impossible. But after a long journey, I found my way to become an Anglican priest, which fulfilled my call. Along my path, I have walked through many valleys of darkness but have held on to the knowledge that God and I share a dance of love. I am so grateful for this meditation that has put words to my experience of God as my lover. Thank you. —Loy B.

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.

Listen to the prayer.


Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.