Thursday, June 1, 2017
Jesus and Saint Francis had a genius for not eliminating or punishing the so-called negative side of the world, but incorporating and using it. Francis, simply imitating Jesus, goes to the edge of town and to the bottom of society; he kisses the leper, loves the poor, and wears patches on the outside of his habit so everyone will know that this is what he’s like on the inside. Francis doesn’t hide from his shadow side, but weeps over it and welcomes it as his teacher.
The history of almost every religion begins with one massive misperception, making a fatal distinction between the sacred and the profane. Low-level religions put all their emphasis on creating sacred places, sacred time, and sacred actions. While I fully appreciate the need for this, unfortunately, it leaves the majority of life “un-sacred.”
Your task is to find the good, the true, and the beautiful in everything, even and most especially the problematic. The bad is never strong enough to counteract the good. You can most easily learn this through some form of contemplative practice. Within contemplation you must learn to trust your Vital Center over all the passing jerks and snags of emotions and obsessive thinking.  Once you know you have such a strong and loving soul, or the Indwelling Spirit, you are no longer pulled to and fro with every passing feeling. You have achieved a peace that nothing else can give you, and that no one can take from you (John 14:27).
Divine Incarnation took the form of an Indwelling Presence in every human soul and surely all creatures in some rudimentary way. Ironically, our human freedom gives us the ability to refuse to jump on board our own life. Angels, animals, trees, water, and yes, bread and wine seem to fully accept and enjoy their wondrous fate. Only humans resist and deny their core identities, which can cause great havoc, and thus must be somehow boundaried and contained. But the only way we ourselves can refuse to jump onto the train of life is by any negative game of exclusion or unlove—even of ourselves. When we read the Gospel texts carefully, we see that the only people Jesus seems to “exclude” are those who exclude others. Exclusion might be described as the core sin. Don’t waste any time rejecting, excluding, eliminating, or punishing anyone or anything else. Everything belongs, including you.
Gateway to Silence:
 For more on how to move beyond emotional and mental addictions, see Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself (New Harbinger Publications: 2007).
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Franciscan Mysticism: I AM That Which I Am Seeking, disc 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2012), CD, MP3 download;
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 10; and
“Franciscan Mysticism,” an unpublished talk, April 12, 2012.