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Center for Action and Contemplation
Just This
Just This

Surrendering to the Present Moment 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Father Richard invites us to remain with and surrender to the present moment: 

If we watch our minds, we will see that we live most of our life in the past or in the future. The present always seems boring and not enough. To get ourselves engaged, we will often “create a problem” to resolve, and then another, and another. The only way many of us know how to motivate ourselves is to create problems or to need to “fix” something, someone else, or ourselves.  

If we can’t be positively present right now without creating a problem, nothing new is ever going to happen. We will only experience what we already agree with and what does not threaten us and our preferred mode of being. We will never experience the unexpected depth and contentment that is always being offered to us.  

Notice that the Scriptures present God as a thief, or a master who returns before being expected (see Matthew 24:42–46), who even “puts on an apron, sits them at table and waits on them” (see Luke 12:35–38)! Do we even realize what an extraordinary notion of God Jesus must have had to talk that way? God waiting on us! No problem to solve—just an immediate intimacy to enjoy.  

It is just such a moment that can elicit both awe and surrender from within us: awe before the utterly undeserved and unexpected—and some sweet surrender to the fact that it might just be true. [1]  

The spiritual journey is a constant interplay between moments of awe followed by a process of surrender to that moment. We must first allow ourselves to be captured by the goodness, truth, or beauty of something beyond and outside ourselves. Then we universalize from that moment to the goodness, truth, and beauty of the rest of reality, until our realization eventually ricochets back to include ourselves! This is the great inner dialogue we call prayer. Yet we humans resist both the awe and, even more, the surrender. Both together are vital, and so we must practice. 

The way to any universal idea is to proceed through a concrete encounter. The one is the way to the many; the specific is the way to the spacious; the now is the way to the always; the here is the way to the everywhere; the material is the way to the spiritual; the visible is the way to the invisible. When we see contemplatively, we know that we live in a fully sacramental universe, where everything is an epiphany. While philosophers tend toward universals and poets love particulars, mystics and contemplative practice teach us how to encompass both. [2]  


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Just This (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2017), 40–41.  

[2] Rohr, Just This, 10–11. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Wings (detail), digital oil pastel. Izzy Spitz, Tuesday Chemistry (detail), digital oil pastel. Izzy Spitz, Field Study 1 (detail), oil pastel. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

In the midst of color and movement we focus and are present to one point in a sacred sphere. 

Story from Our Community:  

As a grateful 83-year-old person … I read Fr. Rohr’s daily meditations every morning with joy. I am working on contemplative practices and allowing God to teach me to turn loose of discouraging situations and hold onto hope. I am trying to live every day with the patience of a pair of beautiful mockingbirds taking care of their nest in a tree just outside my living room window. I can watch them from my recliner—what a gift!  —Dorotha C. 

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