Daily Riches (CV era): Our New Uncluttered View of Life (Steven Paulikas)

“The images of empty public spaces around the world are shocking outward signs that reflect the interior emptiness so many feel right now. Millions are being deprived of the chance to work, socialize and support one another in person. . . .Yet the void created by this crisis may be an unexpected gift. This emptiness presents to us a mystical and uncluttered view of life as we have been living it until a few weeks ago. . . . Each day, it becomes more apparent that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to consider a fundamental question about the spirit and morality of our way of living: Having emptied ourselves, what do we really want to fill our world with once it is time to rebuild?

It is notable that the most dangerous places in America right now are the ones filled with people we are refusing the right of empty space. . . . the virus is endangering prisoners and prison workers. The 34,000 people held in ICE detention centers are ‘sitting ducks’ for infection . . . workers in dozens of Amazon warehouses rushing to fulfill the orders of millions of quarantined Americans have tested positive for the virus, yet the company has given them no viable option to stay at home. . . . What does it say about our economy that it depends on the labor of people whose lives we are willing to sacrifice? Do we want to continue participating in an exhausting economic system that crumbles the instant it is taken out of perpetual motion? And what is the virtue of a desire for constant accumulation of wealth and goods, especially when they come at the cost of collective welfare and equality? These are . . . spiritual concerns that come into view with sharp clarity in the emptiness around them.

If there is anything the collective spiritual insight of millenniums can teach us right now, it is that in addition to the horrors of this current state of emptiness, there is also life to be discovered in this moment. . . . This is a powerful moment in human history in which we can examine, individually and collectively, the unnecessary decadence and cruelty of our contemporary society that we have accepted without sufficient scrutiny. . . . Sitting with these questions now will determine what we are willing to accept once this crisis is over. Having tasted a simpler life, perhaps we will shift our values and patterns. Having seen the importance of community, maybe we will invest more in the well-being of the collective and not just the individual. Having seen the suffering of others anew, we may find it impossible to ignore it in the future. . . . Once the world opens back up, we can choose to fill it with the wisdom and insight gained from these weeks—or allow it to be filled with horrors that are even worse than what we had before. The choice will be ours.” Steven Paulikas

” . . . life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Jesus in Luke 12:15b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Has your life become “uncluttered”–perhaps through much painful loss?
  • Can you think of yourself as in a time between two “normals”–pre-pandemic and post-pandemic? . . . a time for scrutiny of self and society?
  • Can you “sit with” some of the questions the author raises? Can you imagine a much better new normal? . . . pray for that? . . . determine to contribute to that? What might that mean?

Abba, the losses are profound. May all this painful loss not be in vain.

For More: The Lessons of St. Francis: How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality Into Your Daily Life by John Michael Talbot

 

 

Daily Riches: The First Rule of Prayer (Ronald Rolheiser)

“What eventually makes us stop praying, John of the Cross says, is simple boredom, tiredness, lack of energy. It’s hard, very hard, existentially impossible, to crank-up the energy, day in and day out, to pray with real affectivity, real feeling, and real heart. . . . We’re human beings, limited in our energies, and chronically too-tired, dissipated, and torn in various directions to sustain prayer on the basis of feelings. . . . Monks have secrets worth knowing and anyone who has ever been to a monastery knows that monks (who pray often and a lot) sustain themselves in prayer not through feeling, variety, or creativity, but through ritual, rhythm, and routine. . . . Too commonly, we accept the following set of axioms as wise: Creativity and variety are always good. . . . Longer is better than shorter. Either you should pray with feeling or you shouldn’t pray at all. Ritual is meaningless unless we are emotionally invested in it.[1] Each of these axioms is over-romantic, ill thought-out, anthropologically naive, and not helpful in sustaining a life a prayer. Prayer is a relationship, a long-term one, and lives by those rules. Relating to anyone long-term has its ups and downs. Nobody can be interesting all the time, sustain high energy all the time, or fully invest himself or herself all the time. Never travel with anyone who expects you to be interesting, lively, and emotionally-invested all the time. Real life doesn’t work that way. Neither does prayer. What sustains a relationship long-term is . . . a regular rhythm that incarnates the commitment. . . . . the great spiritual writers have always said that there is only one, non-negotiable, rule for prayer: ‘Show up! Show up regularly!’ The ups and downs of our minds and hearts are of secondary importance.” Ronald Rolheiser

 “Devote yourselves to prayer.”
Colossians 4:2 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you sometimes just too tired, too overwhelmed–or honestly simply too unmotivated to pray? Welcome, fellow pilgrim.
  • Are you trying to be someone who prays regularly without having a “routine” or “rhythm” or “practice?” Is that working?
  • Why not make a specific plan for daily prayer (be realistic)–and then just begin “showing up?” See what happens.

Abba, I refuse to leave my communion with you to chance. I know you’re waiting. I’m going to show up.

For more: Prayer: Our Deepest Longing by Ronald Rolheiser.

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Thanks for reading, following and sharing these “Daily Riches!” Look for my upcoming book –Wisdom From the Margins: Daily Readings for more of these provocative quotes, questions, and prayers.

[1] my emphasis

Sources:

Rolheiser, Ronald. “The Value of Ritual in Sustaining Prayer.” http://ronrolheiser.com/the-value-of-ritual-in-sustaining-prayer/#.WuDLHMgh2Rs.

Daily Riches: Becoming A New Person In Jesus Christ (Rowan Williams and Augustine)

“… contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom—freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that come from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative prayer is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter. …To be converted to the faith does not mean simply acquiring a new set of beliefs, but becoming a new person, a person in communion with God and others through Jesus Christ. Contemplation is an intrinsic element in this transforming process. To learn to look to God without regard to my own instant satisfaction, to learn to scrutinize and to relativise the cravings and fantasies that arise in me—this is to allow God to be God, and thus to allow the prayer of Christ, God’s own relation to God, to come alive in me. Invoking the Holy Spirit is a matter of asking the third person of the Trinity to enter my spirit and bring the clarity I need to see where I am in slavery to cravings and fantasies and to give me patience and stillness as God’s light and love penetrate my inner life. …And as this process unfolds, I become more free—to borrow a phrase of St. Augustine—to ‘love human beings in a human way,’ to love them not for what they may promise me, to love them not as if they were there to provide me with lasting safety and comfort, but as fragile fellow-creatures held in the love of God. I discover … how to see other persons and things for what they are in relation to God, not to me. And it is here that true justice as well as true love has its roots.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love …”
Ephesians 3:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you can, please read this again. Can you see why contemplation is so important and powerful?
  • Do you regularly practice contemplation?
  • If not, do you have another practice that promises the same results?

Abba, let me be rooted and held in your love for me.

For More: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Address…” by Rowan Williams

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Thank you for following and sharing my blog. I really appreciate it! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Practice Of Waiting (William Britton)

“Simone Weil considered patient waiting to be ‘the foundation of the spiritual life.’ And John Ortberg condemns hurry, which is the rejection of patient waiting, as ‘the great enemy of the spiritual life.’ Obviously, for me to flourish spiritually will require that I learn to wait, and like with anything else, that will require practice. I can practice waiting as I refuse to take matters into my own hands (being controlling or vengeful)–and instead wait on God to do as God see’s fit. I can practice waiting as I refuse to indulge in despair or cynicism–instead looking for evidence of God’s coming yet present Kingdom. I can practice waiting as I refuse to forge ahead when I don’t know what to do–admitting my limitations and need for help. (From the outside my waiting may look like doing nothing–but really it’s creating a space for God to do what only God can do.) I can practice waiting as I refuse to give in to temptation–refusing to insist on what I want, or feel I need–trusting the one who knows better than me what I need. I can practice waiting as I refuse to complain bitterly (or worse) curse angrily–reminding myself that things aren’t necessarily supposed to go as I planned. I can ‘sit tight’ in anticipation of something transcendent–something that transcends my oh-so-important strategy. I can practice waiting as I refuse to make happiness my primary motivation for the day. God invariably has something better than happiness in mind for me–and it’s not about me anyway. Finally, I can practice waiting as I refuse to worry. I can remind myself that God is always at work for good, that my worrying won’t add anything to that, that my rushing ahead will only make a mess and create a lot of needless anxiety.” William Britton

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.”
Psalm 40:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think of all the things that seem “foundational” to you in your Christian life. Is waiting well one of them?
  • How can you practice waiting? Can you think of some ways to make this personal for you?
  • Are your convictions about the need to wait strong enough to cause you to wait the next time you feel like “forging ahead?”

Abba, I want to live at a the pace of god-fearer, and in a calmness that comes from taking my cues from you. Help me to make this my way in the world.

For More: Godspeed

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to regularly give you something brief and of unique value. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: Stop Trying to Love and Start Pursuing Love (Dallas Willard)

“Paul understood the fallacy of those who say ‘I just can’t love so and so,’ and there they stop and give up on love. He knew that they were working at the wrong level. They should not try to love that person but try to become the kind of person who would love them. Only so can the ideal of love pass into a real possibility and practice. Our aim under love is not to be loving to this or that person, or in this or that kind of situation, but to be a person possessed by love as an overall character of life…. I do not come to my enemy and then try to love them, I come to them as a loving person. Love is not a faucet to be turned on or off at will. God himself doesn’t just love me or you, he is love. He is creative will for all that is good. That is his identity, and explains why he loves individuals, even when he is not pleased with them. …[It is] from the depths of the self from which actions come. If we take care of the sources of action, action will take care of itself. …We do not achieve the disposition of agape love by direct effort, but by attending to and putting into place the conditions out of which it arises. …If, now, we want to do the things the scriptures say, we must change the sources of action in the human self. …in [1 Cor. 13:4-8] Paul is not saying that we are to be patient, kind, humble and so forth, but that love itself is patient, kind, humble, etc. …So we ‘pursue love’ and the rest takes care of itself.” Dallas Willard

“Be imitators of God …
and walk in love”
Ephesians 5:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • God expects us to love difficult people. Is your response to “try hard?”
  • What if instead, God wants to change you in “the depths of the self”–to make you the kind of person who loves?
  • There are “conditions out of which [love] arises”–conditions which address heart change more than behavior. No doubt Willard is thinking of formative practices. Can you think of some practices that could help you learn to be a more loving person? If not, perhaps start here.

Abba, make me the kind of person who loves my enemies as easily as my friends.

For More: Getting Love Right by Dallas Willard

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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)

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