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Center for Action and Contemplation
Authentic Transformation
Authentic Transformation

Showing Up to Serve 

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

For Father Richard, mature transformation involves Showing Up: 

For me, showing up means bringing our hearts and minds into the actual suffering and problems of the world. It means engagement, social presence, and sincere concern for justice and peace—and others beyond ourselves. It means having the courage to enter the fray of life and even being willing to make big mistakes or appear foolish. Showing up is the full and final result of cleaning up, growing up, and waking up. It’s God’s fully transformed “work of art” (see Ephesians 2:10, Jerusalem Bible). If we do not have a lot of people showing up in the suffering trenches of the world, it’s probably because those of us in the world of religion have allowed them to stop with merely cleaning up, growing up, or waking up. 

Many tried to grow up, but never faced their personal or cultural shadow. 

Many tried to clean up, without recognizing the necessity of having any goal beyond that. 

Many have awakened for a while (in the midst of great love or great suffering, or even through their own burning-bush experience), but they were unable to undertake the mundane work of cleaning up and growing up, so they went back to sleep. 

Full spiritual transformation is a runway, lying ahead of us and open to all. [1]  

On The Cosmic We podcast, contemplative activist Alison McCrary recounts a recent experience of “showing up” for justice: 

I believe in the power of our hearts to change. I saw it yesterday [February 28, 2024] when I organized a prayer vigil for compassion, mercy, justice, and for life on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol…. We had about 100 clergy and people of faith and morals gather on the steps in prayer and in song….  

I don’t think any amount of data will ever change hearts and minds, but it’s the stories, it’s the prayer, it’s conversation, it’s dialogue. We saw that back in 2018. I led our statewide campaign to end non-unanimous juries. Louisiana was the only state in the country where a person could get life without parole with a non-unanimous jury. In most states, you have to have 12 of 12 jurors say, “this person is guilty,” and here, when Black people were allowed to serve on jury, they said, “Well, we only need 10 of 12 votes to convict someone.” And this was to keep [in place] … the plantation prison culture that happens here—where people are paid two cents an hour to work on agriculture farms in our prisons.  

This was a 138-year-old Jim Crow law, and we had worked to change it. And I said, “Well, gosh.… How are we going to overturn a Jim Crow law?” But we were able to get 64.4% of Louisianans to vote to overturn it. And in 2018, we ended this practice. I really believe that hearts can be converted, and we have to hold on to the hope that that can happen. [2]  

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Four Shapes to Transformation,” Oneing 5, no. 1, Transformation (Spring 2017): 45. Available as Print and PDF download

[2] Adapted from Barbara Holmes and Donny Bryant, “Sacred Activism with Alison McCrary,” The Cosmic We, season 5, ep. 2 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2024), podcast. Available as MP3 audio download and PDF transcript.  

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:  

I’m moved by the image of the Cosmic Mother. I hear and experience much public advice from masculine figures, but I think in these challenging times, many of us are yearning for the comforting figure of the mother to carry us through. I have three grown children, all of whom are finding ways of living authentic lives. I hope those who offer strong feminine energy can begin to speak out more freely, offering a loving mothering message for humanity.  
—Ann C. 

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