Thursday, October 28, 2021

Katie Snipes Lancaster

I have said these things to you
so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:11

A Look at Joy
To be contemplative, we have to have a slight distance from the world—we have to allow time for withdrawal from business as usual, for meditation, for going into what Jesus calls “our private room.”

However, in order for this not to become escapism, we have to remain quite close to the world at the same time, loving it, feeling its pain and its joy as our pain and our joy. So the fulcrum, that balancing point, must be in the real world. True contemplation all the great masters say, is really quite down to earth and practical, and does not require life in a monastery. It is however, an utterly different way of receiving the moment, and therefore all of life.

In order to have the capacity to “move the world,” we ironically need some distancing and detachment from the diversionary nature and delusions of mass culture and false self. Contemplation builds on the hard bottom of reality—as it is—without ideology, denial, or fantasy…Thomas Merton called it “a hidden wholeness.” …God offers us quiet, contemplative eyes, but God also calls us to prophetic and critical involvement in the pain and suffering of our world—both at the same time…. The classic Christian polarities of action and contemplation always feed, regulate, balance, and integrate one another.

To ever know Good, you have to do something first! But then the very limitations and failures of your “doing” will drive you back, and deeper, into contemplation. And so the cycle of life and prayer begins. After a while you are never sure which is feeding which, or whether it is action or contemplation that comes first. They live through one another, and neither of them can exist by themselves. But finally you will have both your lever and your place to stand—and from there, you can move your bit of the world, because you are being moved yourself inside a Much Larger Flow and Dance.

(Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer, Paulist Press: 2014).

Built us up, O God,
Let a hidden wholeness buoy us
So that we may live out love.