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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Pain of Disconnection

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Father Richard writes about what losing our experience of God as Trinity has cost us:

We have so many people suffering from mental and emotional illnesses in our time. Many people experience alienation from society, their own families, and even from themselves. In a word, they are disconnected instead of connected. I think one of the reasons is because we’ve been told we are all on our own. How does one overcome such a gap on their own? We believe that the ties that bind us have been broken and we don’t know how to put Humpty Dumpty together again. We have been overly reminded of our individual nature, not our deepest inner connection with each other and Reality itself.

The word that emerged in all the great world religions for that deepest connection is soul, the soul of things. We all use the word. Yet it seems we’ve come to doubt the very existence of soul, not only within ourselves, but in everything else, too. Soul implies a symbiotic relationship: once we find it here in ourselves, we’ll find it over there, too. If we can’t see it over there, my bet would be that we haven’t discovered or surrendered to it “in here,” either. 

Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff (b. 1938) writes that even the simple statement, “I believe in God,” offers us an intimate reminder that we are not alone:

To say “I believe in God” means that there is Someone who surrounds me, embraces me everywhere, and loves me, Someone who knows me better than I do myself, deep down in my heart, where not even my beloved can reach, Someone who knows the secret of all mysteries and where all roads lead. I am not alone in this open universe with all my questions for which no one offers me a satisfactory answer. That Someone is with me, and exists for me, and I exist for that Someone and in that Someone’s presence. Believing in God means saying: there exists an ultimate tenderness, an ultimate bosom, an infinite womb, in which I can take refuge and finally have peace in the serenity of love. If that is so, believing in God is worthwhile; it makes us more ourselves and empowers our humanity. [1]

Father Richard concludes:

The God within is like a homing device placed within us, like those found naturally in homing pigeons. No matter where they’re released, they know how to find their way back home—across thousands of miles in some cases! We can think of the Holy Spirit as our interior homing device—that for all our stupidity and mistakes there is this deep internal intuition that we are the sons and daughters of God. No matter how lost we get, it keeps pointing us back “home”—to love, to connection, to meaningful relationship with Someone or something else, to soul. It’s only God in us that knows God. It’s God in us that loves God. It’s God in us that recognizes God. That’s Trinity 101.

[1] Leonardo Boff, Holy Trinity, Perfect Community, trans. Phillip Berryman (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000), xv–xvi. 

Adapted from Richard Rohr: Trinity: The Soul of Creation, session 1 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2017), MP4 download; and

The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity, disc 2 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2004), CD, MP3 download.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 4-6 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.

The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: Trinity is the mystery of deep, abiding relationship. Each of the organisms in these photos reflect different forms but share the same source, providing benefits to the others. They are intricately related in their shared ecosystem.

Story from Our Community:

At the beginning of inner work, I walked a beach one morning and wrote all the things causing pain at the water’s edge. I stood and watched the waves slowly wipe away the words. It was a prayer and a promise that one day the pain itself would be wiped away, and the grief eventually abated. That spot became my go-to place to pray. Integrating this into my Christian practice helps me embrace it on a deeper level.
—Carolyn R.

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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