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Center for Action and Contemplation

Unknowing: Weekly Summary

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Healthy religion is always humble about its own holiness and knowledge. It knows that it does not know. Anybody who really knows also knows that they don’t know at all. —Richard Rohr

In my experience, the people who find God are usually people who are very serious about their quest and their questions, more so than being absolutely certain about their answers. —Richard Rohr

We may come to a place that points beyond conceptions so that we may start to discover what God is not and allow room for what we can hardly conceive—God is no thing. —Lisa Colón DeLay

Contemplation is a wordless resting in the presence of God beyond all thoughts and images. So, in contemplation, we’re not thinking of anything. We’re not thinking of anything, but we’re wordlessly resting in a presence beyond thought that’s intimately accessing our heart as we intimately access it, and we rest in the oneness. —James Finley

What if it was exactly at the point at which the words go wobbly, at which they start to slip through our fingers, that we might find ourselves able to take an unobstructed glimpse into holy truth? —Janet P. Williams

When we come before the tremendous mystery of God, all we can do is mutter. We know whatever just happened is beyond words, beyond proving, and beyond any kind of rational certitude. Our present notion of God is never it, because if we comprehend it, it is not God. —Richard Rohr

Receiving “Grace”

In her book Seeking the God Beyond, Anglican priest and author Janet P. Williams suggests poetry as a helpful way for individuals to move beyond ordinary patterns of thought and prayer. She writes, “Poems address mystery and reality sufficiently obliquely that in them we can, as Emily Dickinson demanded, ‘tell the truth [a]slant.’” [1] We invite you to click on the image below to listen to a poem entitled “Grace” by Australian poet Judith Wright [1915–2000]. Through prayerful listening, the poem becomes an invitation to experience God beyond what we can know. Here is an excerpt:

Living is dailiness, a simple bread

That’s worth the eating. But I have known a wine,

a drunkenness that can’t be spoken or sung . . .

It seems to have nothing to do with things at all . . .

[it] takes over the depth of flesh, the inward eye . . .

because it occurs beyond the here and now, positives, negatives, what we hope and are. [2]

[1] J. P. Williams, Seeking the God Beyond: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2019), 161.

[2] Judith Wright, “Grace,” in The Double Tree: Selected Poems, 1942–1976 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978), 143.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Chaokun Wang, 夜 night (detail), 2017, photograph, China, Creative Commons. Unknown Author, Close-up of New Growth (detail), 1970, photograph, British Columbia, Public Domain. Chaokun Wang, 竹子 bamboo (detail), 2015, photograph, Heifei, Creative Commons. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge the image.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: Moonlight, dewdrops, the overnight growth of bamboo. Nature reveals the great mystery of the Divine in the cycles and patterns of life.

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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This year’s theme

The Prophetic Path

It can be easier to turn away from suffering than face it with an open heart. That’s why our 2023 Daily Meditations theme, The Prophetic Path, empowers us to not avoid or fear the pain of the world, but turn toward it with compassion.

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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.