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Holy Listening

Remain in Relationship

Sunday, July 24th, 2022

Jesus said, “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in himwill bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. . . . As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” —John 15:4–5, 9

This year’s Daily Meditations theme is “Nothing Stands Alone,” a truth revealed in God as Trinity and throughout all of creation. This week we explore how listening with depth, respect, and even reverence is key to building and maintaining loving relationships. In this homily, Father Richard speaks of Jesus’ desire for us to remain connected:

I want you to be honest: Would you rather have a friend who is always right or one who is in right relationship with you? I think I know the answer: We’d rather have someone who’s in right relationship with us. In fact, someone who’s right all the time can be pretty obnoxious. Would we rather have a friend who’s always correct or a friend to whom we’re always connected? Of course, we’d rather have the second.

So why did we in the West seemingly change the rules for God? Many of us grew up thinking God wanted us to be right, to be correct, even to be perfect. What this passage in John’s Gospel is saying is that God wants people who are in right relationship, which means that we are open, and that we can listen to others with understanding and compassion. It means that we can admit when we’re wrong, which is almost every day for most of us. It certainly is for me.  

And yet we keep condemning ourselves and others for not being perfect, for not being right, for not being correct. This parable, really one of the most beautiful in all the gospels, tells us what God desires—simply that we remain connected, a branch on the vine, which is the love of God.

Everybody seems to be trying to prove that they are right. We have almost a collective incapacity to admit failure, to ever admit that we are wrong, which makes us liars most of the time. Jesus is calling forth a very different kind of human being.

Jesus says people who live the vulnerable life of connection and relationship will bear much fruit. These are the people we trust, like, and admire. And yet so many of us are afraid to be the very thing that we admire the most. How foolish human beings are! But again, Jesus has told us the way: he is the vine. We are the branches. None of us can be or need to be correct, but we can always be connected.  

Reference:

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Being Connected over Being Correct,” homily, April 28, 2018.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Claudia Retter, Caroline’s Porch (detail), photograph, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Lynn’s Tomatoes (detail), photograph, used with permission. Claudia Retter, Micah’s Room (detail), photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click to view the image.

This week’s images by Claudia Retter appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. This year we invited a few photographers, including Claudia, to share their vision with us in an artistic exploration for the Daily Meditations. The inspiration questions we asked each artist to create from were: How do you as an artist connect to and engage with (S)spirit and/or tradition(s)? How can we translate deeper truths through a lens? and How can we show our inherent connectedness (of humans, nature, other creatures, etc.) through imagery?

Image Inspiration: Our eyes are so often drawn to grand majesties – a vivid sunset or an expansive landscape – but the smallest of things has value, a story of its own, a place in the world. —Claudia Retter

Story from Our Community:

The desert fathers tell us we need silence, / so we can hear the speaking of our soul. / The mockingbird tells us to keep silent, / so we can hear her song. / The running brook tells us to keep quiet, / and listen as it babbles across the stones. / The rushing wind tells us to listen / as it makes the tree limbs dance. / A thousand stars say look and be quiet, / as they brighten the night. / The little baby says listen to my cooing, / in my world all is right. —From the poem “Silence” by Gary T.

Share your own story with us.

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.

 

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Our theme this year is Nothing Stands Alone. What could happen if we embraced the idea of God as relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the world? 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.