Monday, October 24, 2011

Contemplative seeing of the doctrine of the cross

This is from the book Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr.
Today is the final of 4 classes on the book and it was been a really interesting time for me.
We are giving this out as a handout - which is at the conclusion of the book.
Richard Rohr has truly become one of my mentors in this spiritual journey.

A Contemplative Seeing of the Doctrine of the Cross

• God is to be found in all things, even and most especially in the painful, tragic, and sinful things, exactly where we do not want to look for God
• Human existence is neither perfectly consistent, nor is it incoherent chaos. It is a “coincidence of opposites”, a collision of cross-purposes; we are all filled with contradictions needing to be reconciled.
• The price that we pay for holding together these opposites is always some form of crucifixion. Jesus himself was crucified between a good thief and a bad thief, between heaven and heart, holding on to both his humanity and his divinity;
• Christians call this pattern “the paschal mystery": true life comes only through the journeys of death and rebirth wherein we learn who God is for us.
• We should not be surprised or scandalized by the sinful and the tragic. Do what you can to be peace and to do justice, but never expect or demand perfection on this earth.
• We must resist all utopian ideologies and heroic idealisms that are not tempered by patience and taught by all that is broken, flawed, sinful, and poor.
• The following of Jesus is not a “salvation scheme” or a means of creating social order, as much as it is a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the world.
• Those who agree to carry and love what God loves, which is both the good and the bad of human history., and to pay the price for its reconciliation within themselves - these are the followers of Jesus, - the leaven, the salt, the remnant, the mustard seed that God can use to transform the world.
• These few are enough to keep the world from its path toward greed, violence, and self destruction.
• Institutional religion is a humanly necessary but also immature manifestation of this “hidden mystery” by which God is saving the world.
• By God’s choice and grace, many seem to be living this mystery of the suffering and joy of God who do not formally belong to any church. Any many who have been formally baptized have the right words but not the transformative experience.
• The doctrine, folly, and image of the cross is the great clarifier and truth-speaker for all of human history. I personally do not believe that Jesus came to found a separate religion as much as he came to present a universal message of vulnerability and foundational unity that is necessary for all religions, the human soul, and history itself to survive.
• The contemplative mind is the only mind big enough to see this, and the only kind of seeing that is surrendered enough to trust it. The calculative mind will merely continue to create dualisms, win/lose scenarios, imperial egos and necessary victims.
• God has given us a new consciousness in what we call “prayer” and an utterly unexpected, maybe even unwanted, explanation or reality in what we call “the cross.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Contemplative prayer and a poem

I start this day with ten minutes of contemplative prayer. That is our homework assignment for this week in our class on "everything belongs" by Richard Rohr.
Last week it was 5 mints daily and now it is 10. And it is not easy this morning. Thoughts and plans and issues swirl around in my head. I can't get comfortable. How long so far? My mind wanders from here to there.
I try to concentrate on my breathing and find some sort of mantra. I am a mess and then
Suddenly I experience presence, a sense of love and everything else fades into the background.
Prayer is a gift and moves from burden to blessing. It is grace.

A quote from the book: "Therapy heals our disconnections from this problem, from this person, from this difficult emotion.
Prayer heals our split from life itself. It heals our disconnectedness from the deepest stream itself."

Here is a poem by Mary Oliver


It doesn't have to be
The blue iris, it could be
Weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
Small stones; just
Pay attention, then patch

A few words together and don't try
To make them elaborate, this isn't
A contest but the doorway

Into thanks, and a silence in which
Another voice may speak


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Everything Belongs part 1

I am co leading a 4 part workshop on the book - "Everything Belongs" by Richard Rohr. We had our first session yesterday and I put together notes for it. (unfortunately I could not attend because of a church emergency - see previous post)

However, as I started to work on next week's notes, I thought it might be helpful to share what we are discussion. So, here are the notes from the first chapter as well as questions for reflection. I would appreciate any comments.

Notes on Chapter One – Center and Circumference

We are a circumference people, with little access to the center.
Our “skin” is not bad; it’s just not our soul or spirit.
The path of prayer and love and the path of suffering seem to be the two Great Paths of transformation
You do not resolve the God question in your head – or even in the perfection of moral response. It is resolved in you, when you agree to bear the mystery of God: God’s suffering for the world and God’s ecstasy in the world.

Journey to the Core…the most important way is to live and fully accept our reality.
We do not find our own center; it finds us. Our own mind will not be able to figure it out….. We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.
We do not really know what it means to be human unless we know God. And in turn we do not really know God except through our own broken and rejoicing humanity.
It seems that we Christians have been worshiping Jesus’ journey instead of doing his journey.
What does “We do not find our own center, it finds us.” Mean to you?______

Calmly Held Boundaries
• Those who rush to artificially manufacture their own identity often end up with hardened and overly defended edges.
• Many others give up their boundaries before they have them, always seeking their identity in another group, experience, possession, or person.
• Others let go of their edges too easily in the name of being tolerant and open-minded
How have you struggled with boundaries?_______________________________

Traveling the road of healthy religion and true contemplation will lead to calmly held boundaries which need neither to be defended constantly nor abdicated in the name of “friendship.”

The Third Way – that emerges only when you hold the tension of opposites.
• People who have learned to live from their center in God know which boundaries are worth maintaining and which can be surrendered, although it is this very struggle that often constitutes their deepest “dark nights.”
• Only when we rest in God can we find the safety, the spaciousness, and the scary freedom to be who we are, all that we are, more than we are, and less than we are. Only when we live and see through God can “everything belong.”

How would you describe the “Tension of Opposites” in your own life?____________


I spent hours with a family yesterday.
During one of the hardest times in life. The matriarch of the family had a catastrophic event - her heart stopped twice at the retirement center where she lives. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital and slowly the family came and made the hard decisions that must be made at a time like this.

Unfortunately her children live other places than Columbus. With daughters in Oregon and a son in northwest Ohio, this is not easy. however, I watched how they communicated through cell phones and shared information and feelings and respected one another enough to wait for each child and grandchild to say goodbye.

These are the times that reveal our character as individuals and as families. I could only think that their mother and grandmother would have been pleased as they expressed their love for her and their consideration of one another.

There is more yet to come in these difficult and yet holy times that test us.
It is often unstated but I bear witness to the presence and the strength of god's presence during this time.
God is here in the pain and the waiting and the decisions.
God is here as we silently sit with a loved one as their life is ending.
God is here as we are family together.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I went to Penzones this morning to experience some outward transformation
To have my hair have some white hair colored
I sit and read two books on my IPad
The Untethered Soul and Richard Foster'sbook on the Old Testament
He writes about the Immanuel principal
That god is with me
Underneath everything 
And in the midst of everything
And I find myself meditating on and experiencing transformation - outer and inner
God is with me and us
with Sawyer, a young woman who changes my appearance
  with every man and woman who enters into this place of business and transformation
with me as I read a book and about your book
God is here 
You are here
And I say hello
And thank you 
And free me
And use me

Mumford and sons