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Center for Action and Contemplation
Authentic Transformation
Authentic Transformation

Right Here, Right Now 

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Father Richard describes how contemplation sustains our transformation: 

We can experience the Absolute in a transformative moment that relativizes everything and invites us into the world of love and grace. We can allow our opinions on politics, economics, race, and gender to gradually be changed. But these things are just sort of badges of how enlightened we are unless we find a way to go deep with them. Unless we are led to some kind of contemplative practices that continually reveal our dualistic, argumentative, and biased ways of thinking, we won’t move into a new stage of life. We’ll just have opinions. What we really need is a sustained practice that rewires and transforms our hearts and minds.  

The sustained practice of contemplation involves letting go of all the things that we use to define our so-called separate selves. It helps us access our True Self, the part of us that is always connected to God. Contemplation teaches us how to live in this open place where we watch reality come and go. We learn from it and let it change us. [1] 

Brian McLaren suggests a contemplative practice focused on being “here” with God:  

Here is the simple word by which we show up, respond to the one calling our name. Here is the way we name where we are—pleasant or unpleasant, desired or not—and declare ourselves present to God’s presence…. 

The simple word here … subverts the assumption that we have God named, figured out, and properly “targeted.” Instead, it places us out in the woods, so to speak, calling out so that we can be found by the one seeking us: “Here I am, in the presence of a mystery. Here I am, in the presence of a Presence who transcends, surpasses, overflows, and exceeds every attempt at definition, description, and even conception. Here you are, whoever you are…. May the real I and the real you become present to one another here and now.”  

Whether I feel I’m seeking God, calling out, “Is anybody here?” or whether I feel God is calling out to me and I respond, “Here I am!” I think the simple word here can do something amazingly comprehensive. Through it, I show up. I come out of hiding. I let myself be found…. This acknowledgement of mutual here-ness becomes the prelude to mutual nearness.…  

This kind of awakening begins the transformation of a religious … life into a spiritual life, a life with God—not later and elsewhere, but here and now. How much higher and wider and deeper and richer our lives become when we awaken to the presence of the real, wild, mysterious, living God…. We can respond with presentation [of ourselves], saying “Here I am, Lord. I present myself to you, presenting yourself to me.” We begin to live with a perpetual Here I am, and here you are, in our hearts, inviting constant, vital connection, unbroken communion, lifelong friendship—starting right here, starting right now. [2] 

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Authentic Transformation (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2016), CD. No longer available.  

[2] Brian D. McLaren, Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words (San Francisco, CA: HarperOne, 2012), 32–33, 33–34, 37. 

Image credit and inspiration: Jenna Keiper, web of water (detail), 2020, photo, Washington. Click here to enlarge image. Like this spider’s web, a ray of light can illuminate and transform us

Story from Our Community:  

Our 18-month-old grandson has been teaching me to be attentive, present, and to listen. I have been learning how to let go of my agendas and anxieties so that I can better live out of my True Self. I believe I’m becoming a better person because I’m gradually learning how to be who God created me to be. In my relationships both near and far, I trust I am becoming more authentic, present, and loving. 
—David R. 

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