ego

Awe and Surrender

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I am reposting the entirety of Richard Rohr’s lesson for the day. There is not one person that I know who couldn’t benefit from this advice, including myself. I think it’s fair to say that most conversations I encounter during my day are routine reactions to almost every situation or topic. I, again, include myself in these routine reactions because much of the time I am in my mind considering the next thing instead of experiencing this moment for what it is. Even as I type this my mind jumps off to imagine reactions from a reader or what my next task will be. To return to now. To center and see. My wish is to live and breath in this space more and more each day. This is the ebb and flow I suppose. The breath of consciousness. In and out. Back and forth. Laughter and tears. Hello and good bye. And hello again.

“To begin to see with new eyes, we must observe—and usually be humiliated by—the habitual way we encounter each and every moment. It is humiliating because we will see that we are well-practiced in just a few predictable responses. Not many of our responses are original, fresh, or naturally respectful of what is right in front of us. The most common human responses to a new moment are mistrust, cynicism, fear, defensiveness, dismissal, and judgmentalism. These are the common ways the ego tries to be in control of the data instead of allowing the moment to get some control over us—and teach us something new!

To let the moment teach us, we must allow ourselves to be at least slightly stunned by it until it draws us inward and upward, toward a subtle experience of wonder. We normally need a single moment of gratuitous awe to get us started. Look, for example, at the Judeo-Christian Exodus narrative: It all begins with a murderer (Moses) on the run from the law, encountering a paradoxical bush that “burns without being consumed.” Awestruck, he takes off his shoes and the very earth beneath his feet becomes “holy ground” (see Exodus 3:2-6) because he has met “Being Itself” (see Exodus 3:14). This narrative reveals the classic pattern, repeated in different forms in the varied lives and vocabulary of all the world’s mystics.

The spiritual journey is a constant interplay between moments of awe followed by a process of surrender to that moment. We must first allow ourselves to be captured by the goodness, truth, or beauty of something beyond and outside ourselves. Then we universalize from that moment to the goodness, truth, and beauty of the rest of reality, until our realization eventually ricochets back to include ourselves! This is the great inner dialogue we call prayer. We humans resist both the awe and, even more, the surrender. Both are vital, and so we must practice.

The way to any universal idea is to proceed through a concrete encounter. The one is the way to the many; the specific is the way to the spacious; the now is the way to the always; the here is the way to everywhere; the material is the way to the spiritual; the visible is the way to the invisible. When we see contemplatively, we know that we live in a fully sacramental universe, where everything is an epiphany.

While philosophers tend toward universals and poets love particulars, mystics and contemplative practice teach us how to encompass both.”

~ Richard Rohr

 

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Our Place

“Our first and final loyalty is to one kingdom: God’s or our own. We really can’t fake it. The Big Picture is apparent when God’s work and will is central, and we are happy to take our place in the corner of the frame. This is “doing the will of my Father in heaven” and allows the larger theater of life and love to unfold.”

– Richard Rohr, Preparing For Christmas

People’s Hearts

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“In what must surely be one of the most ignored passages of the Bible, Paul wrote this two millennia ago:

As for myself, I do not care if I am judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I know of no wrong I have done, but this does not make me right before the Lord. The Lord is the One who judges me. So do not judge before the right time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light things that are now hidden in darkness, and will make known the secret purposes of people’s hearts. Then God will praise each one of them. (1 Cor. 4:3–5 NCV)

That’s amazing. Think about what Paul was writing there: He doesn’t know anyone’s motives. Not even his own. Even if his own conscience was clear, that didn’t make him innocent. Paul was aware of his own inability to judge himself. He couldn’t be trusted. So, he said, leave the judging up to God. He’ll sort it out in the end.

This can’t be glossed over. Think about how taking this to heart could deflate our own anger, even before it takes hold. We have no idea what is in someone else’s heart. We don’t know the backstory. We don’t know what’s happening in his mind. We don’t know how her brain works. We think we do, sure, but we don’t.”

~ Brant Hansen, Unoffendable