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Center for Action and Contemplation
Nothing Stands Alone
Nothing Stands Alone

We Are Made for Love

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Feast of the Epiphany

Today we begin another year’s journey of Daily Meditations together. Our 2022 theme is “Nothing Stands Alone”—because the very nature of God and reality is relationship! Father Richard reflects:

The Christian belief in the Trinity says that God is absolute relatedness. God is our word for the ultimate ecosystem that holds all things in positive relationship (see Colossians 1:17). As long as we’re in honest and loving relationship with what is right in front of us, the Spirit can keep working in us and through us and for us.

Jesus comes as a naked, vulnerable baby, totally dependent upon relationship with others. Naked vulnerability means that we are going to let otherness influence and change us. When we don’t give other people any power over our lives, when we block them by thinking we can stand alone, or that otherness can’t change us or teach us anything, we are spiritually dead. As our 2022 theme puts it: Nothing Stands Alone. And it’s true! We are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in an absolute relatedness. We call this love. 

We really were made for love, and outside of love we die very quickly. If we are going to start with Trinity, then loving relationship is the pattern, the very nature of being for us. But when we start with a philosophical concept of being and then try to convince everyone that this being is, in fact, love, we don’t have a lot of success. I’ve been a priest for almost fifty-two years and can say that most Christians seem to be afraid of God. We Christians aren’t more loving than anyone else; sometimes, we’re even less loving than other people! In some ways, that’s inevitable if we’re basically relating to God out of fear, and we haven’t been drawn into the love between the Father and the Son by the Spirit.

Jesus says the Spirit is always the hardest to describe, because “the Spirit blows where it will” (see John 3:8). Jesus’ message to us is clear: don’t ever try to control the Spirit and say where it comes from, where it goes, or who has it. It’s called group narcissism whenever we say our group is the only one that has the Spirit or the Truth. Every group at less mature levels will try to put God in their own pocket and say God only loves their group. Such a belief has nothing to do with the love of God. It isn’t a search for Truth or Holy Mystery, but a search for control. It’s the search for the small self, the search to make myself feel superior and to stand alone. I’m not in control or in charge of this Holy Mystery. I don’t presume to understand. All I know is I’m forever being drawn—through everything—each manifestation (epiphany) calling for surrender, communion, and intimacy.

Symbolic of all of us, the “three wise men” traveled long distances from their native religion and country to fittingly bow down before such an unknown Holy Mystery. It always leads to another Epiphany.

Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault, The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of the Trinity, disc 2(Albuquerque: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2004), DVD, CD, MP3 download.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 1-3 (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: In this triptych, we begin by seeing just one fruit. Moving to the center photo, we see the whole tree. When we look at the third photo, we bring with us the knowledge that there is more to this tree, an abundance of fruit. It’s not alone. Nothing stands alone.

Story from Our Community:

How can I have compassion for another if I cannot have compassion for myself? How can I feel empathy for another if I cannot feel empathy for myself? The common denominator of inclusiveness, of a sense of shared humanity and of our human solidarity, is that to be human is first and foremost to be a person on the way.
—Brad M.

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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This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

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Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? 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.