Ben Keesey is the Development & Partnerships Director for the Center for Action and Contemplation and has been working with Fr. Richard and the CAC team since 2016. Prior to joining CAC, Ben was the Executive Director of the international justice organization Invisible Children working in three countries in east and central Africa.
all this time
the Sun never says to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
with a love like that:
It lights the whole sky.
—Fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafiz
In the heart of this ancient verse by Hafiz, I felt a truth that has altered my perspective on life. All life on our planet depends on the gratuitous outpouring from the sun, which it offers unconditionally, providing the energy for photosynthesis in plants, the heat making our atmosphere temperate, and less apparent features such as solar wind, which shields us from dangerous levels of cosmic radiation. The sun’s continual outpouring makes all life possible. We don’t pay for it, control it, or generate it. We can only receive it with appreciation and gratitude.
Acts of giving, kindness, and love enrich our lives and the world as a whole. The joy of generosity is not just in what we give, but also in the love and compassion that flow through us as we give. When we open our hearts to the needs of others, we discover a wellspring of tenderness that transcends the act of giving itself.
But, for many of us, being on the other side of the exchange is harder to accept. The act of sacred receiving can be just as powerful a role as the act of giving. When we receive with an awareness of our interconnectedness, we invite the abundance of life to flow through us. In that moment, we can experience a profound and sacred joy.
One of the foundational concepts of Fr. Richard’s Alternative Orthodoxy is the Trinitarian shape of God. This positions spiritual power in a circle, not as hierarchical or top-down. Both the outflowing (giving) and the inflowing (receiving) are necessary elements of this dynamic and relational shape of God.
“Love is an infinite, inclusive flow of giving and receiving. God is an event of communion. God is relationality itself. Love is a dynamic, a process.” —Richard Rohr
Our desire is that giving to CAC will be a joyful experience for you and that contributing to this community will be a sacred act of partnership. The inverse is also true: that receiving from CAC will be a joyful experience and that being supported by this community will be a sacred act of partnership. Both sides of this relationship are acts of generosity and flow.
We believe spiritual wisdom is part of the commons, for the benefit of all. This is why we aim for money never to be the barrier to accessing our teaching and programs. This is made possible by the giving (and receiving!) of generous people like you. We are deeply grateful for your participation at all points in this dynamic and interconnected process.
This reflection appears in the Fall 2023 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.