“Who enjoys tranquility? The one who doesn’t take seriously either praise or lack of it from people.” Thomas ‘a Kempis
“In the desert, one inescapably confronted the threat of nothingness, the loss of all one’s activities, distractions, evasions . . . . There in the desert they knew the very scaffolding of their lives to be wholly dismantled. Games were called for what they were. Utter honesty was demanded by unrelenting spiritual directors, hard as the rock beyond the cloister where they prayed. The unbending John Climacus, for example, insisted on laying bare the pretenses of people in the religious life. He spoke of those who bless silence but cannot stop talking about it; those who fast without drawing attention to themselves but then take pride in such remarkable modesty; those who weep over death and then, with tears still in their eyes, rush off to dinner. Amma Syncletica refused to let anyone deceive herself by imagining that retreat to a desert monastery meant the guarantee of freedom from the world. The hardest world to leave, she knew, is the one within the heart. In the desert Christian’s understanding of renunciation, dying to oneself also meant a dying to one’s neighbor. They knew how easy it was to invest oneself in what other people think, measuring oneself by the accomplishments of others, remaining enmeshed in a hopeless pattern of jealousy, subservience, manipulation, and resentment. ‘To die to one’s neighbor is this,’ said Abba Moses the Black, ‘to bear your own faults and not to pay attention to anyone else wondering whether they are good or bad.’ Comparing oneself to others, being concerned about their approval or disapproval, was entirely foreign to the desert way. Watching the sweep of wind over desert sand inevitably gave one practice in studied indifference.” Belden Lane
“Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’
to keep away from worldly desires
that wage war against your very souls.”
1 Peter 2:11 NLT
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- When you think of “worldliness”, do you think about your heart? . . . how entrenched the world is there? . . . how “hard” it is to war against that?
- Would it be hard to quit pretending about your spiritual life?
- Would it be hard to become “indifferent” to the approval of others?
Abba, help me to be real before you and others–no posturing, no pretending.
For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane
“Blessed is that servant who does not think himself better when he is praised and exalted by men, than when he is despised and considered simple and good-for-nothing, for what a man is in the sight of God, this he is and no more.” Francis of Assisi
Krista Tippett recently interviewed Richard Rohr: “So recently, I took a break. I got some rest that I needed badly, and I was staying at a retreat center, and …it was a meditation session I went to. And the person who was leading it read a passage from your book, Falling Upward and read the line— … ‘I have prayed for years for one good humiliation a day, and then I must watch my reaction to it,’ which sounds so uncomfortable. There’s nothing in me that wants to pray for one good humiliation a day.”
No, and there isn’t in me either. I just said that to that group of millennials two weeks ago. Some years ago, I started recognizing that I was getting an awful lot of adulation and praise and some people treating me far more importantly than I deserved. And I realized I was growing used to it, that the ego just loves all of this admiration and projection. And a lot of it was projection. And I didn’t want fame and well-knownness and guru status to totally destroy me, and so for me, this became a necessity, that I had to watch how do I react to not getting my way, to people not agreeing with me, to people not admiring me—and there’s plenty of them—and that I actually needed that. And so I do, I still, I ask God for one good humiliation a day, and I usually get it, one hate letter or whatever it might be. [laughs] And then what I have to do, Krista, is I have to watch my reaction to it. And I’ve got to be honest with you, my inner reaction—I’m not proud to tell you—is defensive, is, ‘That’s not true. You don’t understand me.’ I can just see how well-defended my ego is. And of course, even your critics—and I have plenty of them—at least 10 to 20 percent of what they’re saying is usually true.” Richard Rohr
“What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,
for their ancestors also praised false prophets.”
Jesus in Luke 6:26
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Have you ever seen humiliation as something positive?
- The next time you’re humiliated, “watch your reaction” as if from outside yourself. What do you learn?
- Are you as defended against praise as you are against criticism?
Abba, undefend me.
For More: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
Thank you for sharing/following my blog! – Bill
“This must be why the Lord has blessed my efforts. He looked down from heaven and must have said, ‘Where can I find the weakest, the smallest, the meanest man on the face of the earth?’ Then he saw me and said, ‘Now I have found him. I will work through him, for he will not be proud of it nor take my honor away from myself. He will realize that I am using him because of his littleness and insignificance.’” Francis of Assisi
“When we turn to the inner circle of the spiritual masters—the men and women, not necessarily gifted or distinguished, to whom God was a ‘living, bright reality’ which supernaturalized their everyday life and transmuted their homeliest actions into sublime worship—we find that their roots struck deep into the soil of spiritual silence. Living in the world and rejoicing in human relationships, they yet kept a little cell in their hearts whither they might run to be alone with God.” Bridgid E. Herman
“It’s not addition that makes one holy, but subtraction: stripping the illusions, letting go of the pretense, exposing the false self, breaking open the heart and the understanding…. Conversion is more about unlearning than learning. In a certain sense we are on the utterly wrong track. We are climbing while Jesus is descending, and in that we reflect the pride and the arrogance of Western civilization, always trying to accomplish, perform, and achieve. …The ego is still in charge.” Richard Rohr
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—
and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before him.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-29
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Are you “little” or “lowly” enough for God to use you? Why or why not?
- Are you “climbing while Jesus is descending?” …always trying to “accomplish, perform, and achieve?” If so, why?
- Do you protect a “little cell” in your heart where you can “run to be alone with God?” How else will you undergo the “subtraction” that Rohr mentions?
Abba, I qualify to be your servant: foolish, weak, lowly and despised. Work through me.
For More: Creative Prayer by Bridgid Herman
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”