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Center for Action and Contemplation
Radical Resilience
Radical Resilience

Radical Resilience

Sunday, December 31, 2023

New Year’s Eve

The annual Daily Meditations theme arises from several months of shared conversation and discernment among members of the CAC faculty and staff. CAC Dean of Faculty Brian McLaren introduces our 2024 theme:  

I’ve been invited to share with you all what our theme for 2024 will be: Radical Resilience. Each of those words is important. The word “radical” means going to the root, going to the depths, going beneath the surface.… In fact, that’s what contemplation really is: it’s paying deep attention to the deep dimensions of life. So, radical resilience means radical, deep attention to the deepest roots of resilience. Resilience is the capacity to withstand and recover from hardship or difficulty. It has to do with the ability to spring back into shape after you’ve been beaten down or knocked over or bent over.

I live in Florida, famous for hurricanes, and I’m a lover of trees. Many of our trees in Florida survive hurricanes by being flexible. They’re able to bend an amazing amount and spring back into shape. One of my favorite trees has a slightly different strategy. It’s called the “gumbo-limbo” tree, and the way it survives a hurricane is that when the wind starts to blow, it just lets branches break off. It knows that if you can keep the trunk solid and stable, and you don’t get overturned by the wind, you can bounce back after the storm. And that’s what the gumbo-limbo tree does. It travels light through the storm. It lets go of everything that’s not essential to focus on for life.

Brian connects Radical Resilience to the work of the prophets:  

Prophets are insiders who love a community enough to critique it in love. They don’t simply defend the community they love. They love it way too much for that. But neither do they attack it from the outside mercilessly and seize upon every imperfection to shame it and hurt it. As Richard Rohr often says, they critique with love from the edge of the inside.…

If we’re going to help people take wise action and imagine a better future amid coming troubles, then we will have to help people find that better future within themselves, so they can live that better future out into the world. And that’s what we hope to do together in 2024. We know that we are in hard and dangerous times. We, as a global civilization, are living destructively with our planet. We are living dangerously and divisively with one another. And we’re living often delusionally within ourselves. This year, we are going to seek to explore together radical resilience so we can become thermostats rather than thermometers in our world, setting the temperature, setting an example of contemplative depth and wisdom and love and peace—rather than just sinking into the fury and fear and denial and despair of so many of our times. Welcome, brothers and sisters, to a year of Radical Resilience.

Adapted from Brian McLaren, introduction to the 2024 Daily Meditations: Radical Resilience, video, 6:32.

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Keeping the Candle Lit (detail), New Mexico, photograph, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

Resilience requires endurance – we keep watch to keep the candle lit.

Story from Our Community:  

Two years ago, my 56-year-old son died from cancer. In his memory, I planted a tree outside my window. Afterwards, I was away for seven weeks in the hospital. During that time, there was no one to care for the recently planted tree. I came home to discover it had been stripped of leaves by deer. After some tending, it is now filling in with new leaves and looking beautiful again. The experience spoke to me of the resilience of faith. Faith can overcome and survive setback to reach new heights. —Carol O.

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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.

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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.