Path of Descent: Weekly Summary — Center for Action and Contemplation

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.

Path of Descent: Weekly Summary

Path of Descent

Summary: Sunday, October 16-Friday, October 21, 2016

The pattern of down and up, loss and renewal, enslavement and liberation, exile and return, transformation through darkness and suffering is quite clear in the Hebrew Scriptures, and Jesus evidently sees himself as representing this pattern. (Sunday)

Rather than look for impressive apparitions or miracles, Jesus said we must go inside the belly of the whale for a while. Then and only then will we be spit up on a new shore and understand our call, our place, and our purpose. (Monday)

Jesus clearly taught the twelve disciples about surrender, the necessity of suffering, humility, servant leadership, and nonviolence. (Tuesday)

“In my case Pilgrim’s Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.” —C. G. Jung (Wednesday)

We placed our focus on the heroic instead of the transformative, on achieving rather than serving. (Thursday)

A “crucified God” became the logo and central image of our Christian religion: a dying, bleeding, losing man. If that isn’t saying you win by losing, what is it going to take for us to get the message? (Friday)


Practice: Falling and Failing into Love

In many ways prayer—certainly contemplative prayer or meditation—is planned and organized failure. If you’re not prepared for failure, you’ll avoid prayer, and that’s what most people do. Prayer is typically not an experience of immediate union, satisfaction, or joy; in fact, quite the opposite. Usually you meet your own incapacity for and resistance to union. You encounter your thinking, judging, controlling, accusing, blaming, fearing mind. So why pray?

Julian of Norwich, my favorite mystic, uses the word “sin” to mean a state of separateness or disunion. She writes that you become aware of your state of resistance or separateness, and then when you try to sink into the experience of one-ing—Julian’s word for unitive consciousness—you realize you can’t get there by yourself. You can’t make it happen. You can’t make yourself one.

Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love suggests that only in the falling apart of your own foundation can you experience God as your total foundation and your real foundation. [1] Otherwise you keep creating your own foundation, by your own righteousness, by your own intelligent and holy thoughts. Julian describes this reality in terms of what God does: God reveals God’s-self as your authentic foundation.

What we’re doing in prayer is letting our self-made foundation crumble so that God’s foundation can be our reality. Prayer is a practice in failure that overcomes our resistance to union with Love. Let’s fall into and rest in that Love one more time. . . .

Gateway to Silence:
The way up is down.

[1] My encapsulation of Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 78.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, an unpublished talk, September 19, 2011.

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, The Path of Descent (CD, MP3 download)
Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

Join Our Email Community

Stay up to date on the latest news and happenings from Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation.

HTML spacer