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Love is Our Origin & Our Destiny

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CAC Living School Manager Gigi Ross.

The Alternative Orthodoxy invites us to practice loving action in the world.

May 25th, 2022

A loving image of God empowers us to continue the spiritual journey. As modern mystic Fr. Richard Rohr teaches from the alternative orthodoxy, It’s a good and safe universe, and it’s going to be okay.

This might be hard to accept sometimes, especially when the world feels fraught with oppression and suffering. The Story — the one great story connecting us all — reveals that love is both the foundation and the goal.

Watch: CAC Living School participant and artist Julie Stevens shares how she holds people and situations with God in Love.

Emptying Ourselves for Love

Through six years of living in poverty, CAC Living School manager and contemplative seeker Gigi Ross discovered how contemplation deepens our awareness of Love as both a roof and a foundation.

In ONEING: Unity and Diversity article “Love and Kenosis: Contemplative Foundations of Social Justice,” Gigi writes, “In Mark 12:28–34 [a scribe asks Jesus] ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus replies with the entire Shema, beginning with ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.’ Oneness is where Jesus begins his response, and his answer ends with oneness.

“God is one, so God’s greatest commandment is not only two, but one. We love God as one, and we are one with our neighbor in love.

“How do we do this, live this love? How did Jesus live it? Through kenosis. The word ’emptied,’ a translation of the Greek word ekenose, is a mindset not fixed, but a process, a dance that unfolds as follows:

  • A loving recognition of oneness or unity or union with God,
  • Letting that recognition go,
  • Allowing the sense of separateness to arise,
  • Letting it die,
  • Allowing the resurrection of the sense of oneness with God, and
  • Letting it go to repeat the cycle.”
An image of a blue crescent moon.

Contemplation and action begin with love. Contemplation and action end with love.

—Gigi Ross, CAC Living School Manager

Grounded in Loving Oneness

Gigi’s practice of kenosis follows a cycle, but when you let go of anything you tend to cling to, you are practicing kenosis. It is an intentional choice to let go for your own good and, as we see in Gigi’s story, also for the good of others. “Kenosis came to me unbidden when I lost my full-time job in 2008 and ran out of money a year later,” Gigi continues. “It came tasting like betrayal, a setup.”

“The most difficult time of this period, the kenosis of kenosis for me, was the 20 months I stayed with an activist in her 80s in exchange for helping her continue to live independently in her two-bedroom apartment. My stay was difficult because the day-to-day details that were my responsibilities mattered less and less to her, and it became more difficult for her to understand the necessity of taking care of them. Secondly, the room where I stayed shared a wall with the apartment next door. The neighbor’s television was always on and always loud.

“I did not sleep well. Poor sleep colored my ability to be present to the woman I was supposed to help. Six months into my stay, everything came to a head: unexpected cleaning to be done yet again on my day off. An argument. Angry shouts. Later conversation about what happened. Me not remembering my hurtful words. Once reminded, a vague memory — my wakeup call. I saw a side of myself that shocked me. I reflected on why I couldn’t remember what I knew I had said.

“I kept my promise and lived there 14 more months with further opportunities to empty myself. I took my anger to God out of love for her and myself, and, in doing so, deepened my love for her and for me. This contemplation emptied me of my anger without removing the stress of that living situation, yet I was empty enough to serve in love.”

A clipart image of a blue flame.

Contemplation and action begin with love. Contemplation and action end with love.

—Gigi Ross, CAC Living School Manager

Reflect With Us

How can a practice of kenosis keep you grounded in loving Oneness? Share your reflection with us.


We Conspire is a new series from the Center for Action and Contemplation featuring wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Sign up for the monthly email series and receive a free invitation to practice each month.

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