Daily Riches: The Need for Action that Proceeds From Contemplation (Rowan Williams, Evelyn Underhill, Richard Rohr, and Thomas Merton)

“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 comes 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 practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.” Rowan Williams

“For [mystics,] contemplation and action are not opposites, but two interdependent forms of a life that is one – a life that rushes out to a passionate communion with the true and beautiful, only that it may draw from this direct experience of Reality a new intensity wherewith to handle the world of things; and remake it, or at least some little bit of it, ‘nearer to the heart’s desire.'”  Evelyn Underhill

“The opposite of contemplation is not action, it is reaction. We must wait for pure action, which always proceeds from a contemplative silence.” Richard Rohr

“Do you think the way to sanctity is to lock yourself up with prayers and your books and the meditations that please and interest your mind, to protect yourself with many walls, against people you consider stupid? …in the refusal of activities and works which are necessary for the good of others but which happen to bore and distract you? …by winding yourself up in a cocoon of spiritual and aesthetic pleasures, instead of renouncing all your tastes and desires and ambitions and satisfactions for the love of Christ, Who will not even live within you if you cannot find Him in other people? Far from being essentially opposed to each other, interior contemplation and external activity are two aspects of the same love of God.” Thomas Merton

“I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.”
Psalm 63:2

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is much of what you do “pure action” that “proceeds from a contemplative silence”, or are you typically just reacting?
  • Do you have a practice to help you escape the insidious influence of our “unreal and insane world?” If not by contemplation, then how?
  • Do you believe in contemplation? Do you “practice daily” what you believe?

God of Reality, may I commune with you before attempting to “handle the world of things.”

For More: New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton


“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Quest of the Soul and Organized Religion (Richard Rohr and Dallas Willard)

“Organized religion often becomes problematic – not wrong, I’m just saying problematic – when you move into the second half of life because it tends, in most instances, not to answer the questions that the soul is asking. Many people have found various forms of para-church, like the Franciscans. But not everybody is called to be a priest or a nun…. You need to find some way to learn or study or to pray alongside your Sunday worship community, some form of para-church grouping ….’  The Sunday service alone seldom leads people on deeper or even real journeys; we must begin to be honest about this. All that organized religion can do is to hold you inside the boxing ring long enough so you can begin to ask good questions and expect bigger answers. But it seldom teaches you how to really box with the mystery itself. Organized religion does not tend to cook you! It just keeps you on a low, half-cold simmer. It doesn’t teach you how to expect the mystery to show itself at any profound level. It tends, and I don’t mean to be unkind, to make you codependent upon its own ministry, instead of leading you to know something for yourself, which is really the whole point.” Richard Rohr

“Seventeen years of ministerial efforts in a wide range of denominational settings had made it clear to me that what Christians were normally told to do … was not advancing them spiritually.  …All pleasing and doctrinally sound schemes of Christian education, church growth, and spiritual renewal came around at last to this disappointing result.” Dallas Willard

“I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee.” Paul in Acts 26:5

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Pastor, are you guiding people in their own “deeper journeys” with God, or mediating between them and God?
  • Are people “advancing … spiritually” in significant, measurable ways, in your church? Are they prepared for times of doubt, disillusionment, disappointment with God and each other? Do they understand the value of waiting, of suffering, of brokenness, or failure? Do they know how to keep trusting in the dark?
  • Organized religion can be “problematic” or “disappointing.” Does it have to be? What exactly are you “organized” to accomplish in your church?

Abba, give great wisdom and deep courage to those who lead us in the faith.

For More:  Silent Compassion by Richard Rohr


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. 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.”

Daily Riches: Compassion Which Flows From Contemplation (Richard Rohr)

“Leave the silence open-ended. Do not try to settle the dust. Do not rush to resolve the inner conflict. Do not seek a glib, quick answer, but leave all things for a while in the silent space. Do not rush to judgment. That is what it really means that God alone is the judge. Inner silence frees you from the burden of thinking that your judgment is needed or important. Real silence moves you from knowing things to perceiving a presence that has a reality in itself. Could that be God? There is then a mutuality between you and all things. There is an I-Thou relationship, as twentieth-century philosopher Martin Buber would call it. He said an I-It relationship is when we experience everything as a commodity, as useful, as utilitarian. But the I-thou relationship is when you an simply respect a thing as it is without adjusting it, naming it, changing it, fixing it, controlling it, or trying to explain it. Is this the mind that can know God? I think so. That does not mean that there is not a place for explaining, not a place for understanding. But first you have to learn to say “yes” to the moment. Yes is where you have to begin. If you start with no, which is critiquing, judging, pigeonholing, analyzing, dismissing, it is very hard to get back to yes. You must learn to start every single encounter with a foundational yes, before you ever dare to move to no. That is the heart of contemplation, and it takes a lifetime of practice. But you have now begun and can live each day with a forever-returning beginner’s mind. It will always be silent before it dares to speak.” Richard Rohr 

“draw near to listen
rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools….”
Ecclesiastes 5:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you fallen into the trap of “thinking your judgment is needed or important?”
  • Of seeing others as commodities based on whether they can be useful to you? This seems like a particular pitfall for those in ministry.
  • Have you begun the “lifetime practice” of always starting with a “foundational yes?” …not starting with “critiquing, judging, pigeonholing, analyzing or dismissing?”

Abba, keep me from usurping your role as judge and jury. May I learn to sit with silence before I dare to speak.

For More: Silent Compassion by Richard Rohr


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.”