by Suleika Jaouad
‘…but I’m still yearning. It’s different now, in that it’s not specific things, just the word: more. That’s the bittersweetness of being granted your wishes, then facing the prospect of losing them. I love my life—my family, my husband, my sweet new dog, my friends, my home, my garden, my work, and this beloved community—and I want to be able to enjoy that life, today and tomorrow and for many years to come.
But with this illness and all the treatment side effects, I can’t rely on my body from hour to hour, much less day to day or week to week, which makes planning or making commitments so difficult. It’s strange to have a sense of urgency to make and do and see, but to also have a body that often just can’t. It’s a particular kind of entrapment.
So here at the beginning of fall, instead of embarking on some grand adventure, I’m rejoicing in the moments where I can enjoy a small one. One day last week, while out at my farmhouse, I woke up feeling… well, feeling like I hadn’t just consumed a dose of rat poison. I have two electric bikes, and that afternoon, my friend Kristen and I hopped on and started speeding down the winding country roads, past babbling brooks, under covered bridges, up into the hills. After awhile, we stopped at a plant nursery with a little outdoor bar and lounge and had cocktails—something I hadn’t done in a very long time. By the time we left, the sun was setting, and I felt almost giddy. That afternoon, I’d had more.
[Alet-les-Bains in Languedoc, France.]
From Fr Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation.
Old age, as such, is almost a complete changing of gears and engines from the first half of our lives, and does not happen without many slow realizations, inner calmings, lots of inner resistance and denials, and eventual surrenders. All of them by God’s grace work with our ever-deepening sense of what we really desire and who we really are.
Reality, fate, destiny, providence, and tragedy are slow but insistent teachers. The horizon of old age seems to be a plan that God has prepared as inevitable and part of the necessary school of life. What is gratuitously given is also gratuitously taken away, just as Job slowly came to accept.
If we are to speak of a spirituality of ripening, we need to recognize that it is always characterized by an increasing tolerance for ambiguity, a growing sense of subtlety, an ever-larger ability to include and allow, and a capacity to live with contradictions and even to love them! I cannot imagine any other way of coming to those broad horizons except through many trials, unsolvable paradoxes, and errors in trying to resolve them.
The ripening of mind and heart is most basically a capacity for nondual consciousness and contemplation. So my guidance is a simple reminder to recall what we will be forced to learn by necessity and under pressure anyway—the open-ended way of allowing and the deep meaning that some call faith. To live in trustful faith is to ripen; it is almost that simple.
There she is. Johanne. Joan of Arc.
At Église Saint André in Alet-les-Bains.
It finds us.
Limoux’s waning moon.
By asking “Whom does my soul serve?” we learn to turn our attention to the deeper purposes of what we do. We enlarge our vision of what’s possible and gradually learn to root our actions in soul.
Could it be that this earthly realm, not in spite of but because of its very density and jagged edges, offers precisely the conditions for the expression of certain aspects of divine love that could become real in no other way? This world does indeed show forth what love is like in a particularly intense and costly way. But when we look at this process more deeply, we can see that those sharp edges we experience as constriction at the same time call forth some of the most exquisite dimensions of love . . . qualities such as steadfastness, tenderness, commitment, forbearance, fidelity, and forgiveness. These mature and subtle flavors of love have no real context in a realm where there are no edges and boundaries, where all just flows. But when you run up against the hard edge and have to stand true to love anyway, what emerges is a most precious taste of pure divine love.
Cynthia Bourgeault, author, ‘The Meaning of Mary Magdalene’
︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶
From author and scholar Jean Houston:
Once you answer the call to a larger life, there is no turning back. Indeed, each of us might usefully consider where we find ourselves right now on the cycle of our own particular journeys. Have you heard a call to the larger life? Have you refused it, and if so, why? Have you accepted the call but then met with monsters of recalcitrance who refused to let you pass across the threshold to your own deeper capacities and possible life? Did you finally outwit these monsters and get across? Are you caught in the belly of the whale through despair, depression, or just plain sloth? Have unusual allies or helpers shown up? A telephone call at the right time? A book falling open at an important passage? Do you find yourself in the midst of the road of trials, and if so, do you experience it as full of adventures or as just one damn crisis after another? Is there awaiting you a sacred marriage or a transformational friendship? Do you feel the yearning for the inner beloved of the soul? Are you seeking atonement or attunement with your father or mother . . .? Are you finding a boon, an insight, a project that may bring some healthy solution to your own and the world’s problems? . . . Or perhaps you find yourself, like the rest of us, in several different stages of the journey at the same time.
From the Center for Action & Contemplation, ‘experience a version of this practice through video and sound.’ Turn it up so you can hear the birds. :)
Being in a different country, immersed in a second language and culture, the grail journey is seemingly more acute…magnified. Yet, these journeys are available to us anywhere…time or place. The calling is profound. Listening, imperative. And then, time seemingly elongates…expands…where the stories we once carried seem so much quieter, smaller. Maybe it isn’t that life is short, but that we live it fast…choices and consequences and ‘next.’ As Cynthia shares, it’s the ‘density and hard edges’ of this iteration in time that gives us the grace and possibility…mercy?…to examine the most exquisite dimensions of love within the constructs we create with fear, rage, and violence, the dimensions of
As Cynthia reminds us, “That’s our business down here. That’s what we’re here for.”
Saint-Martin’s in Limoux, for Ukraine.
Elton John gave tribute to Queen Elizabeth at his concert in Toronto in last night.
“I’m 75, and she’s been with me all my life, and I feel very sad that she won’t be with me anymore, but I’m glad she’s at peace, and I’m glad she’s at rest, and she deserves it. She worked bloody hard. I send my love to her family and her loved ones, and she will be missed. But her spirit lives on. And we’ll celebrate her life tonight with music.”
And from the government of France today, a remarkably eloquent and gracefully written statement historically honoring the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
in Limoux. And it was 74 degrees! J’adore 74.
The Grand Cafe Oui, s’il vous plaît.
“Those who dance are often condemned by those who cannot hear the music.”
Love every single page, all 721 of them. It’s been an education and beautiful guide book for the history and contemporary journeys into the sacred mysteries of our beloved Languedoc.
There is only one way, and I repeat one way only, in which to understand the word forgiveness. By practicing it. And while practicing it, it is important to be aware that another judgment is not hiding within this forgiveness of the person or thing that is forgiven. For example, are you able to forgive yourself?
Be not afraid. There is nothing to be feared. But be aware that every thought, every word and every action has an impact in the cosmos. Remember that a wrong word said on one side of the globe is all it takes to creat a tidal wave on the there. Step outside fear.
May the eye rest only on that which is new.
May the hand no longer take, but give.
May thought in the future be free in the service of the Exalted.
The heart is the mirror of the universe.
The heart is the true Grail.
All this week Father Richard Rohr, the Center for Action and Contemplation, has been writing about the Grail. Juxtaposed with ‘The Manuscript,’ powerful and confirming.
“After our own Grail experience, our lives are characterized by some measure of perpetual dissatisfaction. Nothing lives up to our standards: not the church, not ourselves, not our country. There is a radical, aching longing: Ordinary life will never again be good enough, yet it is not meaningless either.
After the Grail experience, the ordinary forever becomes extraordinary. God is both perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed in everything.
A peak experience can be disconcerting. Sometimes we might even be ungrateful for it. We don’t fit in anymore. We live the rest of our lives at a tilt, wandering like Parsifal. We might feel a bit off-center. We can’t get excited about things most people get excited about. We just don’t believe they’re important anymore.
We get wounded in the hip, like Jacob (Genesis 32:26), and we limp the rest of our lives, but we’re not worried about the wound. We’re utterly confused, but we’re not confused by our confusion. We can live with our confusion now because, behind it all, we know.
Does that sound like double-talk? When one gets into Grail language, it’s all paradox. Everyone wants to pull us back to the first language of logic, law, and ego-tower building. But we can’t go anywhere with that. We have jumped off the ego tower. Once Parsifal has seen the Grail—even though he returns to the world—he is radically different ever after.”
Les Ampoules sont meilleures! Dieu Merci.
After my climb up to St. Salvayre late last week, the blisters are better and time for new exploration. Heading to Arles tomorrow, where I can explore Roman ruins and basque in the energy and paintings of Vincent van Gogh. In 1888, after two years living in Paris, he yearned for sunshine and the colors of Midi-France, the South of France. Apparently, he was consumed by creativity during his time in Arles, before he left to voluntarily be committed to a psychiatric institution in Saint-Rémy de Provence. 🌻
You know what’s so wild? I was in Denver last summer for my birthday to be with my son and his girlfriend, and my daughter and her boyfriend, to visit the traveling Van Gogh exhibit called, Van Gogh Alive!
It was s p e c t a c u l a r and incredibly moving. And now, this year for my birthday (!), Arles and walk in Vincent’s footsteps, absorbing, Gaia willing, his energy…feeling his presence. Who knew! The Universe. ℒℴve ☆҉ it when that happens.
Incredible, really, the U.S. media has not picked up on what Lance Armstrong and his WEDŪ team did for the kids in Uvalde. Maybe if DT was somehow involved, either dissing it or the providers, they would have then covered it and amplified what collective compassion and goodness can do for a community to heal violent devastation and emotional wounds.
I wrote about this yesterday. If it wasn’t for listening to the Vuelta update on The Move podcast/YouTube, I would not have known the bikes were delivered.
BIKES FOR UVALDE DELIVERED
On August 27th, 800 bikes and helmets were delivered to the children in the Uvalde, Texas community – $269,446 in donations!
Here’s what Lance had to say about your tremendous efforts.
Thank you for making a difference!
“To say the experience was powerful & moving & emotional would be wildly understating the resilience of the children and community of Uvalde, and of the human spirit; but it’s a good place to start. I truly believe there’s an unmatched freedom in bicycles; and in that freedom, there’s power. To all involved, thank you.”
Would love to find the Cave of Bethlehem, where the Cathars reportedly conducted their initiations, for the Parfaits, and many people connected with them visited. Perhaps Mariam of Mandela…and Yeshua. The Rosicrusians ascribed and still ascribe great importance to the space. Some believe invitations continue to take place there in the cave.
P. 422 of the book, The Manuscript, I picked up at the book shop in Rennes-les-Chateau: “…can’t run away from he past, always present and now.”
Ancient Aramaic prayer:
You Who are everywhere
Thy Kingdom come
Your will be done
Here and now and for evermore.
Fill us with the power of your mercy.
And free us from the fetters with which we bind each other.
Lead us out of temptation: free us from ourselves
And give us the strength to be one with You.
Teach us the true power of forgiveness.
May this holy moment be the ground
From which our future actions grow.
To many of you, this will sound familiar. You may know it in later versions as “Our Father,” “The Lord’s Prayer,” or “Pater Noster.”
From the Center of Action & Contemplation this week:
“Parables are a wisdom genre. They belong to mashal, the Jewish branch of the universal tradition of sacred poetry, stories, proverbs, riddles, and dialogues through which wisdom is conveyed. . . .
We can see the razor edge of Yeshua’s brilliance as he takes the familiar world of mashal far beyond the safety zone of conventional morality into a world of radical reversal and paradox. He is transforming proverbs into parables—and a parable, incidentally, is not the same thing as an aphorism or a moral lesson. Its closest cousin is really the Buddhist koan, a deliberately subversive paradox aimed at turning our usual mind upside down. . . . Their job is not to confirm but to uproot. You can imagine the effect that had on his audience!
Stories were Yeshua’s stock-in-trade, the main medium by which he conveyed his message. The parables occupy fully 35% of the first three Gospels. But one of their most surprising features is that they are not about God. They are about weddings and banquets, family tensions, muggings, farmers sowing and reaping, and shrewd business dealings. God is mentioned in only one or two. . . . Rabbi Yeshua obviously wanted us to look closely at this world, not some other one. It is here and now—all around us in the most ordinary things—that we find the divine presence.”
Drinking Blanquette de Limoux, Perrier, and inhaling the sounds, the music, the French conversation, the beautiful and quiet energy of Limoux, on the Place de le Republique. Merci, Le Concept, for the Wifi. :)
Demain (tomorrow), Gaia willing, Arles!
“There is nothing more tragic in the modern world than the misuse of power and action to which men are driven by their own Faustian misunderstandings and misapprehensions. We have more power at our disposal today than we have ever had, and yet we are more alienated and estranged from the ground of meaning and of love than we have ever been.
Contemplation in a World of Action, 1965
‘…you will see that (we) move almost automatically into a pattern of up or down, in our out, for me or against me, right or wrong, black or white, gay or straight, good or bad. It is the basic reason why the “stinkin’ thinkin'” of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, religious imperialism, and prejudice of all kinds is so hard to overcome and has lasted so long…’
‘Neuroscience now makes very clear that humans deeply love predictability and fear all unpredictability, which encourages us to make all kinds of absolute affirmations, especially about fearful or dangerous things…’
‘Our religion is not working well: suffering, fear, violence, injustice, greed, and meaninglessness still abound. This is not even close to the reign of God that Jesus taught. And we must be frank: in their behavior and impact upon the world, Christians are not much different than other people. — Christianity is now seen as “irrelevant” by some, “toxic” by many, and often as a large part of the problem rather than any kind of solution. Some of us are almost embarrassed to say we are Christian because of the negative images that word conjures in others’ minds. Young people especially are turned off by how judgmental, exclusionary, impractical, and ineffective Christian culture seems to be. — We must rediscover what St. Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) called the “marrow of the Gospel.” It’s time to rebuild from the bottom up. If the foundation is not solid and sure, everything we try to build on top of it is weak and ineffective. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that so much is tumbling down around us. It’s time to begin again.’
-Fr Richard Rohr
“In a sense, Christians have always lived a different epistemological existence than nonbelievers. But this is something new.”
An expose on Evangelical Christianity leaning into civil war written by Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for Politico. His piece was recently published in The Atlantic.
“More than a few times, I’ve heard casual talk of civil war inside places that purport to worship the Prince of Peace.”
‘Southern Baptist leaders covered up sex abuse, lied to members about secret database, explosive report shows
Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention released a major third-party investigation that found that sex abuse survivors were often ignored, minimized and “even vilified” by top leaders in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.
The findings of nearly 300 pages include shocking new details about specific abuse cases and shine a light on how denominational leaders for decades actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform. They also lied to Southern Baptists over whether they could maintain a database of offenders to prevent more abuse when top leaders were secretly keeping a private list for years.
The report — the first investigation of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC — is expected to send shock waves into a conservative Christian community that has had intense internal battles over how to handle sex abuse. The 13 million-member denomination, along with other religious institutions in the United States, has struggled with declining membership for the past 15 years. Its leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church, saying the total number of abuse cases among Southern Bapitists was small.’ [5.22.22]
Full report: https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2022/05/22/southern-baptist-sex-abuse-report/?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=wp_news_alert_revere&location=alert&wpmk=1&wpisrc=al_news__alert-national&pwapi_token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJjb29raWVuYW1lIjoid3BfY3J0aWQiLCJpc3MiOiJDYXJ0YSIsImNvb2tpZXZhbHVlIjoiNWUwMDBiYzU5YmJjMGY0MTRmNTNkNDdmIiwidGFnIjoid3BfbmV3c19hbGVydF9yZXZlcmUiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczovL3d3dy53YXNoaW5ndG9ucG9zdC5jb20vcmVsaWdpb24vMjAyMi8wNS8yMi9zb3V0aGVybi1iYXB0aXN0LXNleC1hYnVzZS1yZXBvcnQvP3V0bV9zb3VyY2U9YWxlcnQmdXRtX21lZGl1bT1lbWFpbCZ1dG1fY2FtcGFpZ249d3BfbmV3c19hbGVydF9yZXZlcmUmbG9jYXRpb249YWxlcnQmd3Btaz0xJndwaXNyYz1hbF9uZXdzX19hbGVydC1uYXRpb25hbCJ9.hkvN_HNmvFCt_smR2GkfwgcJb9kpJR0uK-bzs1QfXzs
‘Without the contemplative and converted mind, much religion is frankly dangerous for society.’ Fr Richard Rohr
We all will reach a moment when a voice inside says, “I can’t. It’s too difficult, too dark.” What if these moments were invitations to find another voice inside? The voice that says “You are brave.” The pain of transition is what precedes the beginning of something new. -Revolutionary Love
Dan Rather, journalist and author, “Steady” and the book What Unites Us:
‘As with all that we face, we can find resilience in recognizing the threat and calling it out. We should not let the abhorrent become acceptable. There can be pressure in persistence.
In resisting and organizing against the forces of division, we can secure our democracy in ways that could leave it stronger. The crises we face are not new. Turning back the tide, through the vote and the mobilization of action, can leave this country more just and better prepared for the challenges ahead.’
[Yoichi R. Okamoto, Munich’s Large and Beautiful Fussgangerzone (detail), 1973, photograph, Munich, Public Domain.]
S U R V I V A L S K I L L S
From writer and author Suleika Jaouad:
‘When I think of this, I think of my friend Quintin Jones—aka “Lil’ GQ,” if you’ve read my book [Between Two Kingdoms]. Quin survived a childhood difficult beyond measure, including poverty, abuse, mental illness, addiction, and living on the streets as a young teen. In his two decades on death row, he spent 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, and he could have folded in on himself, given up all sense of hope. Instead he reckoned with his past, sought forgiveness for his wrongs, and committed to becoming a light to others, building meaningful friendships from his cell with pen pals across the world, myself included.
To me, Quin is the embodiment of someone who was forced to plumb the depths of their strength and was continually uncovering new reserves. Here on the one-year anniversary of his execution, I’m resharing his prompt “Survival Skills,” which asks us to reflect on our strength—on our ability to endure.’ [5.22.22]
Ending with a story of light ✨from professor Scott Galloway, who returned to his Los Angeles high school recently.
‘Scott goes back to high school.’
Addendum, May 23, 2022
Center for Action and Contemplation
Christianity’s Violence Problem
CAC teacher Brian McLaren has long asked questions out loud that many have often asked only to themselves. In his new book Do I Stay Christian?, Brian outlines compelling reasons both to leave and stay within Christianity. Today we share his critique of Christianity’s complicity with violence. Such truth-telling can be difficult to read. We invite you to practice the contemplative stance of “holding the tension of opposites”:
Echoing its founder’s nonviolence, the Christian faith initially grew as a nonviolent spiritual movement of counter-imperial values. It promoted love, not war. Its primal creed elevated solidarity, not oppression and exclusion [see Galatians 3:26–28]. . . . The early Christians elevated the equality of friendship rather than the supremacy of hierarchy (John 15:15; 3 John 14, 15).
This commitment to nonviolence rapidly eroded in the early fourth century when the emperor Constantine declared Christianity the religion of the empire. This led to an acceptance of violence and domination against the empire’s enemies, but also perceived “enemies” from within:
What the empire wanted to do, the church generally blessed. . . . This cozy relationship with empire continued long after the Roman Empire had fully collapsed. The church supported the empire’s many reincarnations in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, British, Russian, German, and American imperial ventures. Each empire could count on the mainstream Christian church to bless its successes, pardon its failures, and pacify and unify its masses.
A community with a history of violence to Jews . . . does not sound like a safe place for non-Christians. But as a chaplain to empire, Christianity was not a particularly safe place for Christians either—at least not those who chose to differ from the authorities of the church or state. Choosing to differ, in fact, was the root meaning of the word heresy. . . .
Historians generally agree: while the records are unreliable and incomplete, at least tens of thousands of suspected nonconformists were prosecuted by church courts between 1180 and 1450; many thousands were tortured; over a thousand were executed by church authorities. . . . In a seventy-year period starting in 1560, 80,000 women were tried as witches and 40,000 were killed. . . .
Today, abuse of Christians by Christians tends to be more emotional and spiritual than physical. But shunning and disowning (forms of relational banishment), public shaming and character assassination, private humiliations, church trials of nonconformists, blacklisting, and other forms of Christian-on-Christian cruelty continue, and more and more traumatized people are coming forward with their stories. . . .
To state the obvious: Jesus never tortured or killed or ruined the life of anyone, but the same cannot be said for the religion that claims to follow him.
Knowing what I now know, if I were not already a Christian, I would hesitate in becoming one, at least until the religion in all its major forms offers a fearless, searching, public moral accounting for its past crimes . . . first, against Jews, and also against its own nonconformist members.
Today, sources with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are reporting 3,000 civilians have died in Ukraine. Understandably, “the real toll is likely to be considerably higher, citing access difficulties and ongoing corroboration efforts.”
‘The metaphysical basis, the stable core must be with Divine Union or it always bounces bock to the
core of human behavior.’ [R. Rohr] Indeed.
‘Everything in our lives is another lesson in the one continual school of conscious loving.’
And we fail. Humanity fails again and again and again…
Father Richard Rohr at the Center for Action and Contemplation:
“To be clear, it is inconceivable that a true [believer of any faith] would be racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, homophobic, or bigoted toward any group or individual, especially toward the poor and vulnerable, which seems to be an acceptable American prejudice. To end the cycle of violence, our actions must flow from our authentic identity as Love.
One of the reasons I founded the Center for Action and Contemplation was to give activists some grounding in spirituality so they could continue working for social change, but from a stance much different than vengeance, ideology, or willpower pressing against willpower. Most activists I knew loved Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s teachings on nonviolence. But it became clear to me that many of them had only an intellectual appreciation rather than a participation in the much deeper mystery. The ego was still in charge, and I often saw people creating victims of others who were not like them. It was still a power game, not the science of love that Jesus taught us.
When we begin by connecting with our inner experience of communion rather than separation, our actions can become pure, clear, and firm. This kind of action, rooted in one’s True Self, comes from a deeper knowing of what is real, good, true, and beautiful, beyond labels and dualistic judgments of right or wrong. From this place, our energy is positive and has the most potential to create change for the good.”
‘It is normally three steps forward, two steps backwards, and, as Lady Julian of Norwich says, “Both are the mercy of God.”
(I wish I could see the mercy in the backward momentum of this Universal equation.)
From the Flourish Foundation:
‘With this shift in feeling, we soften the illusory crust of independence and begin to sense a natural belonging with all of life—interdependence.
From this place of infinite belonging a deeper sense of care awakens and inspires us to consider our role in the co-creation of reality. More simply, we may choose clothes that support humane working conditions, foods that replenish the planet, a circular economy, and love toward those of a different race, country, or political party.’
“Only the grace of Spirit can enable us to let go of our fears. True prayer (spiritual dialogue) is fundamental for life in Spirit. It is that grace of conversion that opens up our hearts to realize the humble presence in our lives. Prayer of the heart is unceasing prayer, where Spirit breathes in us and our hearts are turned. This deepening of our lives in the divine life is the path to self-discovery. In and through prayer we discover our true selves, the self that Spirit has created each of us to be. . . .
Life in <Divine Presence> should be a daring adventure of love but often we settle for mediocrity. We follow the daily practice of prayer but we are unwilling or, for various reasons, unable to give ourselves totally…to settle on the plain of mediocrity is to settle for something les…”
-Franciscan theologian Ilia Delio
Center for Action and Contemplation
Reading with Divine presence…
Lectio divina is a contemplative way of reading and relating to Scripture and other sacred writings. The medieval monk Guigo II (d. 1188) names the four steps of this foundational contemplative practice:
“One day when I was busy working with my hands I began to think about our spiritual work, and all at once four stages in spiritual exercise came into my mind: reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. It has few rungs, yet its length is immense and wonderful, for its lower end rests upon the earth, but its top pierces the clouds and touches heavenly secrets.”
Read the following passage slowly four times. With the first reading (perhaps aloud), listen with your heart’s ear for a phrase or word that stands out for you. During the second reading, reflect on what touches you, perhaps speaking that phrase or word aloud or writing it in a journal. Third, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced and to what you are called. Fourth, rest in silence after the reading.
Engage in the practice of lectio divina with his poem “Of Earth and Sky.”
Of Earth and Sky
Let me tell you about the ancestors,
she said to me as I sat and relaxed
myself into Grandma’s lap. She was
sharp, and even in her old age
her memory could search
into the far reaches of the past.
I can’t stay up too late, not like I used to.
And then she proceeded to tell me tales
of Greats and Great Greats who did some
great and not-so-great things. Our family
tree is filled with triumph and struggle.
The imperfections make it beautiful.
They’re all just human, you know, just like you.
She poked her frail finger into the flesh of my pectoral.
My kin, of the earth—the humus—yet filled with the breath
of God. Is this not what it means to be adam?
Never forget who you come from,
she said before calling it a night. Her words
implied that this sort of remembrance
would keep me grounded, but also keep me going.
Soaring high when they try to keep me down.
I won’t forget that I am of earth and sky.
Fellowship is a kind of belonging that isn’t based on status, achievement, or gender, but instead is based on a deep belief that everyone matters, everyone is welcome, and everyone is loved, no conditions, no exceptions.
Center for Action and Contemplation
People on all parts of the continuum of gender identity and expression, including those who are gay, bisexual, heterosexual, transgender, cisgender, queer folks, the sexually active, the celibate, and everyone for whom those labels don’t apply. Response: I belong.
People of African descent, of Asian descent, of European descent, of First Nations descent in this land and abroad, and people of mixed and multiple descents and of all the languages spoken here. Response: I belong.
Bodies with all abilities and challenges. Those living with any chronic medical condition, visible or invisible, mental or physical. Response: I belong.
People who identify as activists and those who don’t. Mystics, believers, seekers of all kinds. People of all ages. Those who support you to be here. Response: I belong.
Your emotions: joy, fear, grief, contentment, disappointment, surprise, and all else that flows through you. Response: I belong.
Your families, genetic and otherwise. Those dear to us who have died. Our ancestors and the future ones. The ancestors who lived in this land, in this place, where these buildings are now . . . we honor you through this work that we are undertaking. Response: I belong.
People who feel broken, lost, struggling; who suffer from self-doubt and self-judgment. Response: I belong.
All beings that inhabit this earth: the two-legged, the four-legged, winged and finned, those that walk, fly, and crawl, above the ground and below, in air and water. Response: I belong.
The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as only the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
[Image: Center for Action and Contemplation]
“Thank you” is a simple phrase, but one that carries a lot of meaning. So many people act in ways big and small each day that help others for no expected monetary or other return other than the satisfaction that comes from the act itself.
Inn times of struggle, sadness, and fear, let us all remember the helpers in the world, and try to be helpers to others. Let us be kind and generous. And let us not take all that is good out there for granted. -Dan Rather
For our ancestors.
“The world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The world is part of our own self and we are a part of its suffering wholeness.”
From Father Richard Rohr:
“Our very suffering now, our condensed presence on this common nest that we have largely fouled, will soon be the one thing that we finally share in common. It might well be the one thing that will bring us together politically and religiously. The earth and its life systems, on which we all entirely depend might soon become the very things that will convert us to a simple lifestyle, to necessary community, and to an inherent and universal sense of reverence for the Holy. We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. There are no Jewish, Christian, or Muslim versions of these universal elements. All water is “holy water” even before the benefit of a priest’s waved hand. It is always and everywhere two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, and voilà—we have the absolute miracle of liquid water, absolutely necessary for all that lives.
This earth indeed is the very Body of God, and it is from this body that we are born, live, suffer, and resurrect to eternal life. Either all is God’s Great Project, or we may rightly wonder whether anything is.”
Francis of Assisi called animals “Sister” and “Brother” and viewed humans as one part of a wider family of creation. Franciscan writers Ilia Delio, Keith Douglass Warner, and Pamela Wood recommend adapting a historic Christian practice of “examination of conscience” to focus on how we have harmed or helped our relationships with the Earth:
- Do I seek to eliminate from the world whatever keeps all creatures from their full development intended by their Creator: pollution, greed, overconsumption, loss of habitat, disease, war, extinction of species, oppressive laws and structures? . . .
- Have I encouraged others to take care for creation seriously? . . .
A Prayer for World Peace
I know there is but One Mind, which is the mind of God, in which all people live and move and have their being.
I know there is a divine pattern for humanity and within this pattern there is infinite harmony and peace, cooperation, unity, and mutual helpfulness.
I know that the mind of humankind, being one with the mind of God, shall discover the method, the way, and the means best fitted to permit the flow of Divine Love between individuals and nations.
Thus, harmony, peace, cooperation, unity, and mutual helpfulness are experienced by all.
I know there will be a free interchange of ideas, of cultures, of spiritual concepts, of ethics, of educational systems and scientific discoveries…for all good belongs to all alike.
I know that, because Divine Mind has created us all, we are bound together in one infinite and perfect unity.
I know that all people and all nations will remain individual but unified for the common purpose of promoting peace, happiness, harmony, and prosperity.
I know that deep within each person the Divine Pattern of perfect peace is already implanted.
I now declare that in each person and in leaders of thought everywhere this Divine Pattern moves into action and form, to the end that all nations and all people will live together win peace harmony, and prosperity forever.
-Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes.
Peace can’t be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding.
I see you.
I am here.
‘In a culture that erases humanity, that keeps the act of innocence and beginning invisible, we are sorely in need of being seen with joy, so we can proclaim with equal astonishment and innocence that of all the amazing things that could have been or not, We Are Here.
As far back as we can remember, people of the oldest tribes, unencumbered by civilization, have been rejoicing in being on earth together. No only can we do this for each other, it is essential. For as stars need open space to be seen, as waves need shore to crest, as ew needs grass to soak into, our vitality depends on how we exclaim and rejoice, “I See You!” “I Am Here!”‘
-Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
New Moon today, Sunday, January 2nd.
Center for Action & Contemplation
In a world of fault lines and fractures,
we stand in a place where opposites come together,
awaiting the birth of what is to come.
If you are doubting, welcome.
If you are healing, welcome.
If you are angry at injustice, welcome.
We await a new genesis,
one more beginning in a series of starts,
trailing backwards in time to the very first day.
If you are afraid, welcome.
If you are joyful, welcome.
If you are longing to belong, welcome.
God’s generous rhythm of life, death, resurrection,
moving in and through all things,
the very breath and source of the cosmos itself.
Our pathways converge and continue,
each one of us a catalyst for loving action.
We, a community of saints.
Breathe with us.
She isn’t letting us go gently as she finally releases her grip. Colorado. ♡ -dayle
From Marianne Williamson:
“I embrace each moment as an opportunity for a miracle.
Infinite opportunity is built into the nature of the universe.
It is not lack of opportunities, but rather the ways I have sabotaged them, that has obstructed the flow of miracles into my life.”
December 31, 2021
A Revelation of Heaven on Earth
“We return today to CAC teacher Brian McLaren, who illustrates how one of the Bible’s most challenging books—Revelation—can be a source of wisdom and hope for us today:
There’s a beautiful visionary scene at the end of the Book of Revelation that is as relevant today as it was in the first century. It doesn’t picture us being evacuated from Earth to heaven as many assume. It pictures a New Jerusalem descending from heaven to Earth [see Revelation, chapter 21]. This new city doesn’t need a temple because God’s presence is felt everywhere. It doesn’t need sun or moon because the light of Christ illuminates it from within. Its gates are never shut, and it welcomes people from around the world to receive the treasures it offers and bring the treasures they can offer. From the center of the city, from God’s own throne, a river flows—a river of life or aliveness. Along its banks grows the Tree of Life. All of this, of course, evokes the original creation story and echoes God’s own words in Revelation: “Behold! I’m making all things new!”
Rather than giving its original readers and hearers a coded blueprint of the future, Revelation gave them visionary insight into their present situation. It told them that the story of God’s work in history has never been about escaping Earth and going up to heaven. It has always been about God descending to dwell among us. . . . God wasn’t a distant, terrifying monster waiting for vengeance at the end of the universe. God was descending among us here and now, making the tree of true aliveness available for all.
Earlier in the year, Richard shared the shocking hopefulness of the Bible’s apocalyptic literature:
God puts us in a world of passing things where everything changes and nothing remains the same.
The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. It’s a hard lesson to learn. It helps us appreciate that everything is a gift. We didn’t create it. We don’t deserve it. It will not last, but while we breathe it in, we can enjoy it, and know that it is another moment of God, another moment of life.
People who take this moment seriously take every moment seriously, and those are the people who are ready for heaven.
Brian offers this final encouragement:
What was true for Revelation’s original audience is true for us today. Whatever madman is in power, whatever chaos is breaking out, whatever danger threatens, the river of life is flowing now. The Tree of Life is bearing fruit now. True aliveness is available now. That’s why Revelation ends with the sound of a single word echoing through the universe. That word is not Wait! Nor is it Not Yet!or Someday! It is a word of invitation, welcome, reception, hospitality, and possibility. It is a word not of ending, but of new beginning. That one word is Come! The Spirit says it to us. We echo it back. Together with the Spirit, we say it to everyone who is willing. Come!”
-Father Richard Rohr
‘We’ve been studying war for centuries, we must now study how to create peace…conditions for a deep and lasting peace.’ -Brian McLaren
Plan for U.S. Department of Peace
Ending the scourge of violence in the United States and across the planet requires more than suppressing violence. Lasting peace requires its active and systematized cultivation at every level of government and society. The U.S. Department of Peace will coordinate and spur the efforts we need to make our country and the world a safer place. Nothing short of broad-scale investment and government reorientation can truly turn things around.
Both domestically and internationally, we must dramatically ramp up the use of proven powers of peace-building, including dialogue, mediation, conflict resolution, economic and social development, restorative justice, public health approaches to violence prevention, trauma-informed systems of care, social and emotional learning in schools, and many others.
“I believe our country’s way of dealing with security issues is increasingly obsolete. We have the finest military force in the world, however we can no longer rely on force alone to rid ourselves of international enemies. The planet has become too small for that, and in so doing, we overburden our military by asking them to compensate for the other work that we choose not to do. We are less effective, and less secure, because of that,” said Williamson.
As its mission, the U.S. Department of Peace will; hold peace as an organizing principle; promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; coordinate restorative justice programs; address white supremacy; strengthen nonmilitary means of peacemaking; work to prevent armed conflict; address the epidemic of gun violence; develop new structures of nonviolent dispute resolution; and proactively and systematically promote national and international conflict prevention, mediation, and resolution. In short, we must wage peace. “Large groups of desperate people,” said Williamson, “should be seen as a national security risk.”
The Department will create and establish a Peace Academy, modeled after the military service academies, which will provide a 4-year concentration in peace education. Graduates will be required to serve 5 years in public service in programs dedicated to domestic or international nonviolent conflict resolution.
The Secretary of Peace will serve as a member of the National Security Council and will be empowered to coordinate with all Cabinet agencies – including the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Justice, and State, and the new Department of Children and Youth.
In 2022, let’s pledge to making this our reality. -dayle
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be free from disease.
May auspiciousness be seen everywhere.
May suffering belong to no one.
In the midst of my pain, give me comfort.
In the midst of my sorrow, give me peace.
In the midst of my brokenness, give me wings.
For You are the author of miracles
and I need one now.
We are spirit and thus we are more than the world.
Center for Action and Contemplation, New Mexico
Cultivating Radical Compassion
Author Tara Brach is a skilled psychotherapist and meditation teacher who has developed countless ways to help her students transform their suffering not only for their own sake but on behalf of the world. Over the last seventeen years she has focused particularly on the RAIN meditation practice,  which “cultivates a trust in our own basic goodness and by extension helps us recognize and trust that same light shining through all beings.” Brach suggests:
When you are caught in difficult emotions, the RAIN meditation can bring you back to a wise and compassionate presence. Give yourself a few moments to pause and turn inward.
R Recognize what is happening. Mentally whisper whatever you are aware of: fear, anger, hurt, shame.
A Allow. Let whatever you are feeling be here, without judging it, trying to fix it, or ignoring it. Simply pause and “let be.” You might whisper “This too belongs.”
I Investigate. With curiosity, feel into your body—your throat, chest, belly. Discover where the emotions live inside you. You might gently place a hand wherever feelings are strongest. Sense what is needed or being asked for right now. Is it love? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Understanding?
N Nurture. Offer care to feelings of vulnerability, hurt, or fear. Let the touch of your hand be tender, and send whatever message might most offer healing. You can imagine this coming from your own awake heart or from another being (friend, grandparent, spiritual figure, dog) you trust and love.
After the RAIN: Take some moments in stillness, simply sensing the quality of presence that has unfolded. Notice the shift from when you started (an angry or fearful or victimized self) to the compassionate awareness that is always here.
 To learn more about the RAIN meditation, see Tara Brach’s book Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN (Viking: 2019). For online RAIN resources, visit tarabrach.com/RAIN.