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Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr
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“The people who know God well—mystics, hermits, prayerful people, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover, not a dictator.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“Try to say that: “I don't know anything”. We used to call it “tabula rasa” in Latin. Maybe you could think of yourself as an erased blackboard, ready to be written on. For by and large, what blocks spiritual teaching is the assumption that we already know, or that we don't need to know. We have to pray for the grace of beginner's mind. We need to say with the blind man, “I want to see”.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“God is always bigger than the boxes we build for God, so we should not waste too much time protecting the boxes.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“In terms of soul work, we dare not get rid of the pain before we have learned what it has to teach us.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“The great and merciful surprise is that we come to God not by doing it right but by doing it wrong!”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“Our first experience of life is primarily felt in the *body.* ... We know ourselves in the security of those who hold us and gaze upon us. It's not heard or seen or thought it's felt. That's the original knowing.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“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.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“I believe contemplation shows us that nothing inside us is as bad as our hatred and denial of the bad. Hating and denying it only complicates our problems. All of life is grist for the mill. Paula D’Arcy puts it, “God comes to us disguised as our life.” Everything belongs; God uses everything. There are no dead-ends. There is no wasted energy. Everything”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“If your prayer is not enticing you outside your comfort zones, if your Christ is not an occasional “threat,” you probably need to do some growing up and learning to love.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“Love people even in their sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all of God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov Let”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“Life is not about me; it is about God, and God is about love. When we don’t know love, when we don’t experience love, when we experience only the insecurity and fragility of the small self, we become restless.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“God can most easily be lost by being thought found.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“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.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“The world, the system, moves forward out of fear. That’s why it has to threaten us to make us play the game. We’re threatened with loss of job, money, reputation, or prestige. One study showed that more than 90 percent of corporate crimes brought no financial reward to the persons committing them. They committed the crimes out of fear of losing their jobs. Another reason we play the game is the high reward we receive for staying in it. Why else would we play it? Rewards and punishments become almost the only game in town.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“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.” This road is a “narrow road that few travel upon” these days (Matt. 7:14). It is what many of us like to call “the Third Way”: the tertium quid that emerges only when you hold the tension of opposites.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“How do you sell emptiness, vulnerability, and nonsuccess?”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“It’s heaven all the way to heaven. And it’s hell all the way to hell. Not later, but now.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“Religious energy is in the dark questions, seldom in the answers.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“reality itself, our reality, my limited and sometimes misinterpreted experience, still becomes the revelatory place for God.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“That is true for both liberals and conservatives: the liberals deny the vertical arm of the cross (transcendence and tradition); the conservatives deny the horizontal (breadth and inclusivity).”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“Liminal space is always an experience of displacement in the hope of a new point of view. No wonder Jesus called it “turning around.” Unfortunately, the Greek word meta-noia, which literally means to move “beyond the mind,” is usually translated “repentance” and no longer points to its much deeper meaning.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“That’s what happens in the early stages of contemplation. We wait in silence. In silence all our usual patterns assault us. Our patterns of control, addiction, negativity, tension, anger, and fear assert themselves. That’s why most people give up rather quickly. When Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness, the first things that show up are wild beasts (Mark 1:13). Contemplation is not first of all consoling. It’s only real.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“When we get rid of our kinesthetic knowing, we are more efficient. We can keep pushing feelings down and move ahead with what we have to do in the next hour. There are times when that is quite appropriate, and even helpful and necessary. But not always. As soul, we don’t really act. We just are. As ego, we cope with the world. We change it. We rearrange and constantly try to improve it. As contemplatives, we first stand in vigil, and then we act from that more spacious place, although sometimes we choose not to act, or not to act now.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“This may seem odd, coming from a Center of Action and Contemplation that works to improve people’s lives and is committed to social change, but after eight years at the center I’m convinced that I must primarily teach contemplation. I’ve seen far too many activists who are not the answer. Their head answer is largely correct but the energy, the style, and the soul are not. So if they bring about the so-called revolution they are working for, I don’t want to be part of it (especially if they’re in charge). They might have the answer, but they are not themselves the answer. In fact, they are often part of the problem. That’s one reason that most revolutions fail. They self-destruct from within. Jesus and the great spiritual teachers primarily emphasized transformation of consciousness and soul. Unless that happens, there is no revolution. When leftists take over, they become as power-seeking and controlling and dominating as their oppressors because the demon of power has never been exorcised. We’ve seen this in social reforms and in many grassroots and feminist movements. You want to support them and you agree with many of their ideas, but too often they disappoint. I wonder if Jesus was not referring to this phenomenon when he spoke of throwing out the demons (leaving the place “swept and tidy”) and then seven other demons returned making it worse than before (Matt. 12:45). Overly zealous reforms tend to corrupt the reformers, while they remain incapable of seeing themselves as unreformed. We need less reformation and more transformation”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“For many secular people today we live in a disenchanted universe without meaning, purpose, or direction. We are aware only of what it is not. Seldom do we enjoy what it is. Probably it is only healthy religion that is prepared to answer that question. Healthy religion is an enthusiasm about what is, not an anger about what isn’t.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“It should be the work of Christians who believe in the paschal mystery to help people when they are being led into the darkness and the void. The believer has to tell those in pain that this is not forever; there is a light and you will see it. This isn’t all there is. Trust. Don’t try to rush through it; we can’t leap over our grief work. Nor can we skip over our despair work. We have to feel it. That means that in our life we will have some blue days or dark days. Historic cultures saw grief as a time of incubation, transformation, and necessary hibernation. Yet this sacred space is the very space we avoid. When we avoid darkness, we avoid tension, spiritual creativity, and finally transformation. We avoid God, who works in the darkness — where we are not in control! Maybe that is the secret: relinquishing control.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“mental self-images instead of living in the primal “I” that is already good in God’s eyes. But all I can “pay back” to God or others or myself is who I really am. That’s a place of utter simplicity. Perhaps we don’t want to go back to it precisely because it’s so simple. It feels unadorned. There’s no dressing, nothing to congratulate myself for. I can’t prove any worth, much less superiority. There I am naked and poor. After years of false adornment, it will at first feel like nothing.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
“Fear of Dragons Lawrence Kohlberg, who wrote some excellent material on levels of moral development, charted what each level of moral development was like, describing six distinct levels. He was clear about the difficulty of seeing reality, especially moral or spiritual reality. He concluded that we are incapable of understanding a stage more than one beyond our own. A third-level person can’t make sense of what someone on the fifth level is saying. It is meaningless. That’s what we’re up against when we preach the Gospel. Jesus, in Kohlberg’s schema, is a sixth-level person. Many people have not done their first-, second-, and third-level work of conscience. They’re really not bad-willed; they just can’t understand a higher, more complex moral understanding. I’ve had to accept this from some who attack preaching and teaching. They’re not necessarily ill-willed; they just have no idea where the Gospel is coming from. They have some growing to do yet. It really helps to understand this so we are less apt to be judgmental of them. Jesus meant what he said: “Forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The vast majority of people, according to Kohlberg, remain in the first levels of moral development. The Gospel of Jesus will always be a minority position, as will mystical Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism. If we’re not willing to be led through our fears and anxieties, we will never see or grow. We must always move from one level to a level we don’t completely understand yet. Every step up the ladder of moral development is taken in semi-darkness, by the light of faith. The greatest barrier to the next level of conscience or consciousness is our comfort and control at the one we are at now. Our first response to anyone calling us to truth, greatness, goodness, or morality at a higher level will be increased anxiety. We don’t say, “Isn’t this wonderful.” Instead, we recoil in terror and say, “I don’t know if I want to go there.” At the edges of medieval maps was frequently penciled the warning: “Here be dragons.” We confront these dragons when we approach the edge of our comfort level.”
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

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