Daily Riches (CV Era): Conversations That Heal (David Richo, Heinz Kohut)

Psychologist Heinz Kohut, speaks of “’empathic immersion’ . . . the dedicated presence of the therapist with the client, or the friend with the friend, unhampered by judgment, plans to fix or change him or her, or personal projections. Mindful presence means that one person enters the interior garden of the other and walks through it without trampling any of the flowers, without blaming anyone for the presence of weeds, with great appreciation for all the time, pain, and growth it took to be the way it is. How can this be accomplished in our relationships? It takes an engaged focus that happens best in contemplation, the mindfully bare attention of an alert and caring witness. A contemplative presence involves listening, seeing, and attending without the diversionary mind-sets of fear, desire, control, judgment, or projection. . . . We automatically let the light through, since our ego is no longer in the way. . . . To stay with ourself [sic] or our friend or partner in this way requires that we be free of the need to clear things up or assume control. One person simply accepts the other’s truth no matter how unclear, broken, desperate, or fragmented it may be. In mindful and compassionate presence, it becomes quite acceptable for us or others to be adrift rather than on course, to miss the target, to feel longing without fulfillment. Every variety of human experience is granted hospitality . . . . Empathic presence means listening to someone’s pain with what I call the five A’s: attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing. We pay attention without being distracted. We accept what is said without editing, adding, or blanking. We feel a genuine caring about what happened and what might happen to this person. We allow whatever feelings or silences or head trips the other employs in this moment without attempting to blame him, stop him, or criticize him.” David Richo

“To answer before listening —that is folly and shame.”
Proverbs 18:13 NIV

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you listen without trying to “fix”?. . . without judging or projecting your own fear or desire?
  • Do you have a friend who simply listens no matter how unclear, broken, desperate, or fragmented” you or your story may be?
  • Has anyone ever listened to you “with great appreciation for all the time, pain, and growth it took” for you to be the way you are? How did that feel?

Abba, help me reject everything but empathy when I listen.

For More: The Five Things We Cannot Change . . . . by David Richo

Daily Riches (CV Era): A Wilderness With No Visible Sign of Relief (David Richo, John of the Cross)

“I entered I knew not where,
and there I stood not knowing:
nothing left to know.”
John of the Cross

“Nature is a metaphor of our inner life. Thus in our psyches we can expect a tormenting desertlike time in which nothing seems to be moving or growing in us. Such a torturous void is the unlit era in life when exuberance is gone, when nothing seems to succeed in reviving or renewing us, when things do not improve no matter how much effort we expend, when our spiritual practices become flat and uncomforting. This is the ruthless shadow side of our psychic world, a wilderness with no visible horizon of relief. . . . It must be legitimate and even useful to be fully clear and happy at times and at other times to be unhappy and in the dark. . . . We are nourished by light and dark. The spiritual style is to find a way to say yes mindfully to both. Distressing voids are thus challenges to stay with ourselves. . . . Mindfulness is a practice of attending and staying. Mindful presence in the void happens when (1) we pay attention to what is with no attempt to understand it and (2) when we stay in it with no attempt to end it. If we simply stay with the experience of the void, something eventually opens in it and us. What is born from our yes to the void is not emptiness but spaciousness . . . (3) We say yes to the silent dark and it reveals itself as a necessary—even kindly—oasis in our inner landscape. (4) We no longer seek things or people to rescue us. Eventually the space becomes as significant and as supportive as the things or persons who were supposed to fill it.” David Richo **

“May the day of my birth perish,
and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’
That day—may it turn to darkness;
may God above not care about it;
may no light shine on it.
May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more;
may a cloud settle over it;
may blackness overwhelm it.
That night—may thick darkness seize it;
may it not be included among the days of the year
nor be entered in any of the months.
May that night be barren;
may no shout of joy be heard in it.”
Job 3:3-7 NIV

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you have a spiritual technology for desperately dark times between a past “normal” and some painfully elusive “new normal”?
  • Will you insist on having understanding and exerting control in that space?
  • Can you imagine simply “accepting the things you cannot change” – and trusting that the confusing darkness and disorientation can be a “necessary–even kindly”, unexpected path to a better place? . . . even as a nation?

Help Yahweh! In the unbearable Pain! In the Distress! The Confusion! The Despair!

For more: The Five Things We Cannot Change . . . by David Richo

** Numbers in the text [e.g. (1) ] are my glosses.

Daily Riches: A Theology of Love and of Resistance (Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying ‘peace’ with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence, and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, long-suffering and to solve their problems, if at all, nonviolently. The theology of love must seek to deal drastically with evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them. …Theology does not exist merely to appease the already too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution. In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother to homicidal desperation.” Thomas Merton

“In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildups, chauvinistic passions, and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. … A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war. … And those who have gone to the church to seek the bread of economic justice have been left in the frustrating midnight of economic deprivation. In many instances the church has so aligned itself with the privileged classes and so defended the status quo that it has been unwilling to answer the knock at midnight.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A person who seeks to honor the one who sent him
speaks truth, not lies.”
Jesus in John 7:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your theology of love a “theology of resistance?”
  • Is your church “aligned with the privileged classes and the status quo?”
  • Where in our day, might the church be guilty of appeasing “the already too untroubled?”
  • Do you think these are valuable questions for Christians? . . . for pastors? If not, why not?

Abba, keep us from conforming to this world, or allowing others to do so in peace.

For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton

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