Rebuilding on a Contemplative Foundation
Contemplation is the most radical form of self-surrender and kenosis (letting go). Self-forgetfulness ironically leads to a firm and fearless sense of responsibility. (Sunday)
“To be fully human is to be recreated in the image of Christ’s humanity; and that humanity is the perfect human ‘translation’ of the relationship of the eternal Son to the eternal Father, a relationship of loving and adoring self-giving, a pouring out of life towards the Other.” —Rowan Williams (Monday)
Paradoxically, personal fulfillment means abandoning ourselves and putting others first. It means moving beyond wanting to be loved and moving into becoming lovers. (Tuesday)
If there isn’t much of a relationship between our religion and our politics, I think it’s because we are not involved in healing ourselves. Only whole people can imagine or call forth a more whole world. (Wednesday)
Contemplation addresses the root, the underlying place, where illusion and ego are generated. It touches the unconscious, where most of our wounds and need for healing lie. (Thursday)
Part of us has to die if we are ever to grow. If we’re not willing to let go and die to our small, false self, we won’t enter into any new or sacred space. (Friday)
Practice: A Creed for Rebuilders
Let’s end this week on a hopeful note. Let us, as St. Francis said, begin again. Allow the following creed to inspire your efforts to rebuild from the bottom up. I invite you to read it as lectio divina. With the first reading, listen with your heart’s ear for a phrase or word that stands out for you. During the second reading, reflect on what touches you, perhaps speaking that response aloud or writing in a journal. After reading the passage a third time, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced and what it calls you to. Finally, rest in silence after a fourth reading.
We believe in one Triune God. “There is one Body, one Spirit, one and the same hope . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all, over all, through all, and within all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
We believe that we are, first of all, a people, God’s movement in history.
We believe that our individual lives and our personal growth are for the sake of the generations to come after and built on the faith and the bones of those who have gone ahead of us.
We believe that we must build on the positive, on what we love. Creative and life energies come from belief and from commitment. Critics must first be believers who have learned how to say an ultimate yes.
We agree to bear the burden and the grace of our past. We agree to honor what is, including even the broken things of life: ourselves, church, state, and all institutions. Their dark side is a necessary teacher.
We are committed to building a world of meaning and hope. We recognize the clear need for prophetic deconstruction of all idolatries that make the worship of God impossible. True rebuilding must follow this temporary but necessary un-building.
We believe in a personal universe where the divine image shines through all created things. It is therefore an “enchanted universe” where we can always live in reverence and even adoration before the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Along with St. Paul in Colossians (1:15-20), as Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the clearest image of the unseen God. In him all things cohere, all opposites are overcome. He is the head of the living body, the One in whom all things are reconciled and overcome.
Gateway to Silence:
Build on the positive; build on love.
Adapted from Richard Rohr and John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (Franciscan Media: 2002), 181-182.
For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014)
Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace (Orbis Books: 1993)